There were two extra recommendations moved at the Cabinet meeting of the 29th November 2012, the first was on the replacement scheme for Council Tax Benefit (agenda item 3).
Cabinet is appalled at the government’s decision to transfer responsibility for helping people on low incomes to pay their Council Tax to local authorities but to cut the funding for this by 10 per cent, resulting in a shortfall for Wirral of £3.5 million.
Councils like Wirral have been placed in the awful position of being forced to choose between reducing support to some of the poorest people in the Borough or removing funding from other Council services.
The government’s transitional grant scheme will not help Wirral as it will leave a shortfall of £1.4 million which will have to be found by cuts elsewhere.
Cabinet believes that this policy makes a mockery of Localism. If government is not prepared to transfer both powers and adequate funding to Councils then genuine devolution will never be achieved.
Cabinet calls on the government to rethink this ill-judged policy as a matter of urgency.
The second recommendation (agenda item 6) was to release of some of the frozen Neighbourhood Forum funding.
NEIGHBOURHOOD FORUM FUNDING
Cabinet notes, that due to the potential £13.2 million in year overspend faced by this Council caused in the main by unprecedented cuts in grants from the Coalition Government, all non essential spending has been frozen.
Cabinet has already released £220,000 of funding for local road safety initiatives following a successful bid to the Local Sustainable Transport Fund.
In spite of continuing budget pressures, given clear local need, Cabinet agrees to the immediate release of £330,000 for Area Forums (£30,000 per Forum) for the support of local Community and Voluntary Group projects.
Given the urgency of allocating this resource, Cabinet instructs Officers to meet with Local Ward Members to consider bids that have been submitted, and make recommendations on how this funding should be allocated. Whilst these recommendations are a matter for Ward Members, Cabinet urges Members to consider prioritising bids that seek to assist the most vulnerable and to support community groups who are most in need.
Cabinet also notes that the Chief Executive is currently consulting with residents and staff regarding the future of Area Forum funding and requests that funding for future years be considered in the light of the consultation findings.