Cabinet (Wirral Council) 29th November 2012 Neighbourhood Forum funding and Council Tax Benefit replacement

Cabinet (Wirral Council) recommendations on replacement to Council Tax Benefit and Neighbourhood Forum funding

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).

Additional recommendation:

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.

Council Excellence Overview and Scrutiny Committee 27th November 2012: Changes to Council Tax Benefit

Council Tax Benefit changes, replacement of Council Tax Benefit from April 2013 and replacement with new Local Council Tax Support Scheme

The Council Excellence Overview and Scrutiny Committee agreed (except for Cllr Gilchrist) to recommend to Council Scheme 1 to replace Council Tax Benefit which from April 2013 will be called Local Council Tax Support Scheme.

Those who are now in receipt of a state pension, war pension, disability premium or disabled child premium won’t see any change to their current entitlement. Working age claimants (apart from those groups just mentioned) will find the most Council Tax Support they can receive will be limited to 78% of the Council Tax liability.

Council Tax Support will only be awarded to those with savings under £6,000, rather than the current savings limit of under £16,000. Backdated claims will be stopped and the flat-rate Non-Dependant deduction set to £9.90 per a week.

Wirral Council’s Cabinet have also considered the proposed scheme and also recommended Scheme 1 to Council.

Audit and Risk Management Committee 26th November 2012 Part 1 Highway and Engineering Services Contract

Audit and Risk Management Committee 26th November 2012 HESPE (Highways Engineering Services) Contract

The Chair of the Audit and Risk Management Committee started the meeting with a one minute silence for two councillors who had recently died.

There were no declarations of interest and the minutes of the meeting held on 19th September were quickly agreed.

The first item was the report on the action plan in response to the District Auditor’s report into the Highway and Engineering Services Contract. Colin Hughes informed the Committee that it had been presented to Cabinet on the 18th October.

Councillor Foulkes asked for assurance that Wirral Council was in communication and there was a dialogue with the people who had blown the whistle on the contract?

Colin Hughes replies that he had not been involved personally but could make enquiries. David Armstrong said that when he had been Acting Chief Executive there had been a continuing exchange between himself and the whistle-blower.

Cllr Brighouse referred to Recommendation 14, he wanted them to spend more time looking at implementation which in the past he thought they hadn’t done as well at.

Cllr Abbey thought the timescale of January for Recommendation 20 (the review of Internal Audit) was not much time to get