Lib Dem MP criticises Councils approach to poorest
- 04 Feb
Reading council's cabinet was criticised by Liberal Democrats for its approach to the poorest people.
Former Lib Dem leader Kirsten Bayes questioned the way the cabinet was intending to use the crisis fund intended to mitigate the harsh effects of the Welfare Reform Bill, which will cap benefits.
She also mentioned the cabinet's plan to make people receiving council tax benefit pay the cost of the transfer of the scheme from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) to local authorities - with a 10% cut in funding.
Ms Bayes asked the cabinet last Monday:
Given the way that the council has chosen to take between £1.2 million and £1.8 million from Reading's poorest residents via the new council tax charges - on its own figures post changes to council tax benefit - how can it justify spending £42,000 on admin costs to administer £412,000 of grants for welfare support?
Would it not be better to let the poorest residents keep more of their own money?
Leader of the council, Cllr Jo Lovelock explained the Welfare Reform Act ended the current DWP responsibility for supporting those facing crises.
It did not pass the statutory responsibility to local authorities, but outlined the expectation that they would "create a local provision that best meets the needs of some of the most vulnerable members of the community".
She said the council would get £454,668 in the coming year and £448,054 the year after to mitigate the effects of the introduction of welfare reforms.
There was no sign of continuing funding after that.
She said the cabinet would establish a Financial Crisis Support Service giving targeted advice, developing the capacity of the voluntary sector through council grants to provide help and offering a discretionary service for some direct financial support in cases of exceptional need.
The administration cost of the service would be £42,000.
Cllr Lovelock said:
The council can hardly be expected to give out public money without a proper process and if we are to ensure that those in crisis get that help quickly then dedicated staff will be necessary both for the benefit of recipients and to ensure the spending is properly accounted for.
She derided a suggestion by Ms Bayes at a previous meeting that other local authorities were absorbing the 10 per cent shortfall in council tax support and not passing the cost on to the people receiving benefits.
Reading Borough Council has decided to pass on the cost, which will mean that people who receive council tax benefit will from April have to pay £15 a month for 10 months.
Cllr Lovelock said she had only been able to find one small district council in Hampshire actually absorbing the cost.
She said it was able to do it because it was a small, well-off authority with relatively few people on council tax benefit and was able to absorb the much smaller cost. In Reading the shortfall was £1.2 million:
Instead of trying to play the Government's game and blame the local councils who are in increasingly difficult situations, I would suggest to Ms Bayes that she joins in with Lib Dem MPs such as Sarah Teather who are increasingly vocal in their concerns about the Goverment's approach to welfare reform.
- 08 Nov
NHS BOSS SETS OUT A CASE FOR CASH BOOST
The speech by Mr Stevens at the NHS Providers' annual conference of health managers is being made at the time when three reputable health think-thanks- the Health Foundation, the King's Fund and the...
- 09 Jun
THERESA MAY PLEDGES TO REPLACE THE MENTAL HEALTH ACT 1983
According to Ms May, the new bill would introduce the following:According to the Tories, the proposals were described as the biggest change to mental health treatment law in over 30 years.Ms May...
- 30 May
THE PRESENT FIRST PRIME MINISTER OF SCOTLAND IS TO PLEDGE AGAINST ANY PLANS TO PRIVATISE THE NHS
It is also expected that Sturgeon will do the following as proof of her party's commitment to fighting against further austerity:Sturgeon said this before Tuesday's manifesto launch:"While the polls...
- 17 Mar
402 MILLION POUNDS WILL BE INVESTED IN COUNCILS WITH THE GREATEST HOMELESSNESS DEMAND FROM APRIL 2017
Presently, funding is only used for homeless households and not for the prevention of homelessness in the first instance.The funding by the Department for Communities and Local Government is set to...
- 15 Mar
RULES AROUND PERSONAL INDEPENDENCE PAYMENTS MAY CHANGE ON THURSDAY
Ministers have advised chief executives of over 30 charities which claimed that people will be left without vital financial support, to restrict access to a disability benefit.The Disability Benefits...
- 06 Mar
THE GOVERNMENT HAS BEEN URGED BY THE BMA TO INCREASE HEALTH SPENDING BY 10 BILLION POUNDS
This increase in health spending to a proportion of GDP that matched that of the 10 leading economies across Europe could pay for at least 35,000 extra beds a day and many more GP's, according to the...
- 05 Sep
MANY DOMESTIC VIOLENCE REFUGES AT RISK OF CLOSING DUE TO HOUSING BENEFIT CAP
Women who have been victims of domestic violence as well as their children are at risk of falling into the hands of their violent partners if the government caps housing benefit in the social sector...
- 03 Sep
Data on disability benefits refused by DWP
DWP officials have refused a second request for basic information on disability benefits using the “Section 22” exemption they used previously, reports The Independent.The Department had been...
- 02 Sep
UN to investigate how welfare reforms will affect disability rights
A disability charity in Scotland has said it’s been contacted by the UN’s Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities as part of an inquiry into Britain’s treatment of people with...
- 01 Sep
Benefit cuts affecting 48,500 families in Liverpool
Analysis from Liverpool City Council has found that around 48,500 households are likely to lose their benefits due to new government reforms, reports the Liverpool Echo. Councillor Jane Corbett has...
Responding to the DWP Consultation: Housing Benefit Reform - Supported Housing "It was well-run, in a good location, and very useful. I've only one suggestion; as the session went on it would perhaps have been useful for bullet points of general agreement about what should be in the sector response to be displayed and added to as the session went on, maybe on a flip chart. Regarding your response paper, I particularly like the answer you give to question 9. In fact the general: "if it ain't broke don't fix it" response could be pushed harder." M.P. - Adref Ltd