Tuesday, December 04, 2012

A 13% default rate in Northumberland would mean the council would need to find over £1m to cover the shortfall.

Press Release
Warning to council on ‘hidden cost’ of Bedroom Tax
Estimates show council could be ‘millions’ worse off after controversial rule change

Northumberland County Council’s ruling Liberal Democrat are being warned that they face an ‘unprecedented squeeze’ on council budgets after Labour group leader Grant Davey unveiled figures that show the introduction of the coalition welfare changes in April 2013 could mean a ‘shortfall in council rent of over £1m’*.

Research by the Labour party in Northumberland shows that the most recent figures reveal that the council is paid £8,427,423 of rent income direct to the council but changes due to be introduced in April 2013 mean that rent will no longer be paid direct to the Council incurring an increase collection cost of £50,156.
The government has conducted 6 pilot programmes across the country to measure the impact of ‘direct payment’ and while the DWP have refused to give definitive figures of default on monthly rent payments, they did confirm that average defaults were ‘in the low teens’**.
A 13% default rate in Northumberland would mean the council would need to find over £1m to cover the shortfall.
Labour group leader Grant Davey who has called for Liberal leader of the council Jeff Reid to make a statement on the council’s preparedness for the changes in April 2013 said
‘First we’ve had Liberal cabinet member Tom Brechany deny that some people may lose housing benefit in the county because of the government welfare changes, then the Liberals denied there was a ‘growing housing problem’ in the county despite the independent National Housing Association confirming the council’s record waiting list ‘was a potential housing time bomb’*** and now these figures show the council may have to find a further £1m to cover potential defaults after the introduction of Universal Credit in 2013. It’s time the Liberals got to grips with this issue and it’s time that Jeff Reid showed some real leadership. We’ll be pushing him to release the facts on the true impact of the Universal Credit changes in the county’.

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* Agenda Item: 4.5 - IMPACT OF WELFARE REFORM - Report by Allan Hepple Director of Neighbourhood Services
** BBC website – Mark Easton http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-20459252
*** - Berwick Advertiser New report warns of ‘housing timebomb’
Published on Sunday 2 December 2012 10:00 – NHA Home Truths: North East 2012

Labour has previously drawn attention to its own motion tabled over one year ago which would have given the powers to grant free parking to town and parish council’s across the county. Labour have insisted the motion was fully costed and it now forms a plank of its election manifesto in 2013.

Press Release

‘A recipe for car parking chaos’ claim Labour
Latest Tory motion – ill judged, too late and not enough

A Tory motion due to be debated at Northumberland County Hall on Wednesday has been described as ‘ill-judged, too late and not thought out’ after it emerged the motion was ‘unsustainable’. Labour and Liberal Democrats have both questioned the complicated formula out lined by Tory group leader Peter Jackson which sought to rely on savings from council buildings which had already been sold.

The Motion was described as ‘an exercise in spin over substance’ as it proposed to ‘suspend car parking charges’ in defined areas across Northumberland even though the Liberal Council was ‘unilaterally’ dispensing with charges in places like Hexham which will see charges dropped on a Sunday. The council has come under fire for suspending charges on Sunday’s when the town is at its quietest and for continuing to use patrolling wardens even though charges have been dropped.

Labour has previously drawn attention to its own motion tabled over one year ago which would have given the powers to grant free parking to town and parish council’s across the county. Labour have insisted the motion was fully costed and it now forms a plank of its election manifesto in 2013.

Labour group leader Grant Davey said

‘The current council policy on car parking charges across the county is a shambles. A new policy seems to be announced every week. Into this confusion comes this Tory motion which is not costed, clearly opportunistic and lasts only four weeks. Both Liberal and Tory parties voted against our motion last year and we’ll be voting against this motion because it fails two key tests. Firstly, it doesn’t take into account local feeling, we happen to think that local town and parishes are best placed to tell us if free car parking will benefit their towns and shopping areas. Secondly, this motion only sets out effective policy for the Christmas period. We think this is a major issue all year round and we should be supporting businesses throughout the year. After all, business support should be all year round, not just for Christmas’.

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