PRESS RELEASE – 21 FEBRUARY 2019. (FROM SHDC)
Important information for working age people about changes to the Council Tax Reduction Scheme from 1 April 2019.
Following consultation with the public, South Hams District and West Devon Borough Councils will be introducing a new scheme to help those on a low income to pay their Council Tax.
The Councils have looked carefully at the support scheme and designed something that offers extra assistance to the most vulnerable residents while dealing with the ever changing landscape of welfare reform.
Under the current scheme, some people claiming Universal credit were getting a new bill each month when their circumstances changed. The Councils understand this makes it really difficult for people, already on low incomes, to properly plan or budget their money.
The new scheme leads the way, as the first of its kind in Devon, and will assess how much support a person receives based on their net income. The design means that a change in someone’s income won’t necessarily create a new assessment and Council Tax bill. The scheme has been designed not to react to changes unless they are big enough to take residents into a new income band. Residents will be able to look at a simple table and see what support they are allowed. It’s really simple and easy.
The joy of the new system is that the Councils are fully in control of the scheme and can now do what they can to ease the pressure on residents. What this actually means, is that the Council will make sure that workers are not put off from doing any extra work when they can, because of the difficulty it has taken in the past to pay their Council Tax.
Hand-in-hand with the new scheme, is the Exceptional Hardship Fund, which is already available for those people who are really struggling to make ends meet.Now the Councils will work out how much money is coming into the home and will ignore any money from Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payments and War Disablement Benefits. As usual, they will continue to also ignore any Child Benefit and Child Maintenance Payments. With all of these changes in mind, most residents would see an increase in their awards, making it much easier for them to live more comfortably.
South Hams District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Customer First, Cllr Hilary Bastone said: “This new and improved scheme will go a long way to supporting vulnerable residents through these challenging financial times. The major reason we are changing the scheme is to make it easier and less confusing for those residents who are struggling, to be able to claim a discount in their Council Tax.” South Hams District and West Devon Borough Councils are the first councils in Devon to respond to the changing needs of residents, and to make sure that wherever possible, the most vulnerable are protected and helped.
The way reductions in Council Tax are given to pension-aged people is unchanged, as this is set by central Government.
The Councils are pleased to announce that the new scheme, in most cases, will see an increase in amounts awarded to those in the greatest need.
West Devon Borough Council’s Lead Member for Health and Wellbeing, Cllr Tony Leech said: “Cutting all the paperwork and having less bills going out will make it much easier for our customers to manage their budgets. We will protect our most vulnerable residents even further, by using our Exceptional Hardship Scheme to support those in the most need.”
To find out how these changes will affect you, go to:
NOTES TO EDITORS
Please find attached a link to a video about the new scheme. https://youtu.be/weXtDpiO3nY
UPDATE FROM STAVERTON PARISH COUNCIL REGARDING THE PHONE BOX CONSULTATION
There were 12 email responses to the public consultation about the unused phone box in Landscove; of those 10 supported selling the phone box and 2 wanted it kept.
There were also comments on the Parish Council’s Facebook page which suggested using the phonebox as a book swap.
The Parish Council has been approached directly by a parishioner who lives close to the box and is very keen to keep it, and to this end has volunteered to maintain and look after it.
The Parish Council decided it was only fair to allow this Parishioner suitable time to make this kind offer work and the matter will be reviewed once again in a year’s time.
Fancy standing as councillor?
A number of parish councillors will inevitably depart at the end of this term. Provided there is enough interest amongst the community in standing as councillor, elections will then be held on 2 May 2019.
The parish council really benefits from bringing in new people with new skills or different viewpoints.
More info below. If you are interested in standing, please contact our clerk, Karen Smith here
You may have heard that South Hams District Council are making improvements to recycling and waste collections over the next couple of years and we would like your opinion on the way we tell you about these changes.
Complete this survey for a chance to win a guided tour of the Energy from Waste facility in Plymouth – a state of the art resource which uses your waste that cannot be recycled to produce heat and energy for local businesses.
This survey is available online at www.southhams.gov.uk/wastesurvey .
The full response to this survey will be anonymised.
Although we fortunately don’t see the extremes of poverty referenced in this latest independent report from the UN, it does point to some of the funding issues that I am seeing in my role on Staverton Parish Council, and so I thought it relevant to post it here.
Here are a few key quotes. Or read the full report – useful to gain an outside non-partisan view on what’s happening in our country.
“Local authorities, especially in England, which perform vital roles in providing a real social safety net have been gutted by a series of government policies”
“According to the National Audit Office, local governments in England have seen a 49% real-terms reduction in Government funding from 2010-11 to 2017-18 alongside a rise in demand for key social services.”
“Cuts are being made without either measuring or accounting for their broader impact, such as increasing the need for crisis support and mental health services. People are being pushed toward much more expensive services that can’t turn them away, like accident and emergency rooms.”
“In England, homelessness is up 60% since 2010, rough sleeping is up 134%.54 There are 1.2 million people on the social housing waiting list, but less than 6,000 homes were built last year.55Food bank use is up almost four- fold since 2012,56and there are now about 2,000 food banks in the UK, up from just 29 at the height of the financial crisis.”
Despite the idyllic traditional image of the English countryside, poverty in rural areas is particularly harsh. Rural dwellers are particularly impacted by cuts to transportation and public services, are at a higher risk of loneliness and isolation, and often face higher fuel costs.
“The experience of the United Kingdom, especially since 2010, underscores the conclusion that poverty is a political choice. Austerity could easily have spared the poor, if the political will had existed to do so. Resources were available to the Treasury at the last budget that could have transformed the situation of millions of people living in poverty, but the political choice was made to fund tax cuts for the wealthy instead.”
“Loneliness rates have soared in recent years and life expectancy rates have stalled in the United Kingdom, with the latest statistics showing a sharp drop in the annual improvement that has been experienced every year since the records began, and an actual drop for certain groups.”
“Transport, especially in rural areas, should be considered an essential service, equivalent to water and electricity, and the government should regulate the sector to the extent necessary to ensure that people living in rural areas are adequately served. Abandoning people to the private market”
Applications are now welcomed from community groups/organisations for the annual Parish Council grants. The closing date is noon on 31st Jan 2019. The application form is further down this page. The Council aims to consider applications at the December Parish Council meeting – with cheques issued thereafter.
Please contact me for any further info click here
Karen Smith (Clerk)
There is an ongoing Consultation Period running from 22/10/18 – 3/12/18. The local public ‘drop-in’ event is to be held on Thursday 1 November from 2pm – 7pm at SHDC in the Repton Room, Follaton House, Totnes.
Documentation can also be viewed at the Library in Totnes, at Totnes Town Council and at South Hams District Council – paper copies of the schedules and updated policies maps will be available to view during opening hours.
Click here to read the information and feed back.