The Real Impact of the Budget on Jobs at Cornwall Council

The impact on the recent budget decision is starting to become a hash reality. The spin behind the budget was to cut consultants spending, but in the real world it is effecting contracted staff.

Yesterday, staff who come under the heading Strategy, Localism and Comms were given a briefing by Heads of Service on the cuts to their services. It is a meeting that no staff should have had to attend if Councillors had set a realistic budget, and not one for a catchy headline.

Staff were told five jobs would be cut from Localism, six from Strategy and three from Comms. These are not consultants, or agency staff. This is just the start of the budget decision taking effect. Those departments that are in the firing-line will be asked for voluntary redundancies. If not enough people come forward then there is little option but to go down the line of compulsory redundancies. I have to say these jobs are not extra jobs, but jobs that deliver services. If there is no one employed to do these jobs, then the service stops, or is heavily reduced.

No doubt other service heads will be briefing their staff on cuts to their services in the next few weeks. Cornwall Council is not a fun place to be at the moment. People are very worried, and they have ever reason to be.

BT’s Tender Accepted by Cabinet

This is probably going to be my last post on the JV as the Cabinet has approved the tender received by BT. All the Cabinet Members apart from one (Bert Biscoe) approved the deal. The meeting today has brought to the end aIt a long, emotive, and fraught process.

I will say I am pleased the Cabinet meeting today and the information surrounding the bid was all done in open session. It might bring some confidence back in to the process of partnership working.

The report can be found HERE. This includes the actual savings and job that will and hoped to be created.

As for the jobs, the deal will create 197 new (guaranteed) jobs by end of year 4 and 313 new jobs to be delivered through reasonable endeavours by end of year 5. I am told the term reasonable endeavours has legal meeting, but for me, it still sounds wishy-washy.

The number of staff “in scope” and transferred to BT is 282 full time equivalent (FTE) council employees (132 in Information Services, 76 in Shared Services, 46 in document management and 28 in Telecare). Formal consultation with employees is planned to start in April 2013. I am there will be some nervous staff wanting to know how they will fit into this new utopia.

However, this new utopia might have a sting in the tail on jobs. As 52 jobs have been identified to go by the end of year 4. There is a contractual commitment for most impacted staff to be re-deployed, but that sounds like nothing more than a false-hope.

Anyway the deed is done, and I just hope it will not turn into the disaster like so many other council’s joint ventures up and down the land.

Cornwall Council’s use of a Lie Detector Test

The use of a lie detector test, or to give it its official title voice risk analysis (VRA), is being used by a Capita who have been hired by Cornwall Council to check if people were telling the truth when claiming the Council Tax Single Person Discount (SPA). This met with some uproar from both Councillors and the public. It resulted in one Cabinet Member quitting, and a Motion being submitted to full council to ban its use. It was disappointing that the Motion was not debated, but kicked to a committee for investigation.

Furthermore, Cllr Robinson asked a question to the Leader on the use of VRA which was not fully answered. So in line with the council’s constitution, the answer has been sent to all Councillors explaining the use of VRA.

Individuals are told at the start of the voice risk analysis (VRA) interview that the call will be monitored and recorded for the detection of fraud. When a VRA interview is conducted, the trained assessor calibrates the technology by asking a series of questions that the caller would know the answers to immediately, such as confirmation of name and date of birth.

The assessor will then ask the interviewee a series of open questions and will then, using behavioural analysis, risk score each answer using pre-defined criteria.

Once an interview is complete, the responses are reviewed alongside information gathered during previous review processes.

So how are people selected? the official line is as follows:

Capita apply a ‘Balance of Probability’ approach when identifying cases where a taxpayer has stated that they are entitled to SPD, but this strongly conflicts with the analysis/credit searches conducted.  Such cases will be carefully selected through the application of appropriate criteria and only high risk cases will be considered for telephone interview.  Residents are then invited to undertake a VRA telephone interview for further assessment of their entitlement.  The VRA technology has not been deployed within our own Contact Centre and it will therefore only be applied to those residents who are invited by the Capita SPD team, located in Bromley, to undertake the telephone interview.

I do though agree with the council zero tolerance on benefit fraud, but I still do not think VRA should be used. More so as the technology is far from accurate. The use should be stopped until the relevant committee has had time to investigate. I also await the further information on how many people have been subjected to this treatment, and if anyone refused to take part.

Top 100 Parishes with Second Homes and Holiday Lets

Here is the first of two blogs on the number of second homes and holiday lets. The first one is on the top 100 parishes with the most:

Parish Holiday lets business rates database 29/11/2012 Second homes Council tax database 27/11/2012 Total Holiday Lets and Second homes November 2012 Total household spaces, 2011 Census % household spaces holiday lets and second homes
St. Minver Lowlands 261 507 768 1292 59%
St. Minver Highlands 151 253 404 775 52%
St. Merryn 288 438 726 1406 52%
St. Endellion 125 275 400 863 46%
Poundstock 131 107 238 519 46%
St. Tudy 123 25 148 333 44%
Maker-with-Rame 38 270 308 736 42%
St. Just-in-Roseland 75 293 368 905 41%
St. John 5 140 145 368 39%
Gerrans 94 178 272 704 39%
Lanteglos 48 225 273 759 36%
Padstow 162 540 702 1960 36%
St. Issey 66 116 182 512 36%
St. Anthony-in-Meneage 22 28 50 143 35%
Philleigh 13 19 32 95 34%
Manaccan 25 57 82 244 34%
St. Sampson 19 29 48 144 33%
St. Erth 174 37 211 660 32%
Warleggan 24 12 36 117 31%
Forrabury and Minster 52 109 161 524 31%
Lansallos 139 155 294 962 31%
St. Levan 37 77 114 378 30%
Kilkhampton 182 68 250 833 30%
Advent 19 11 30 100 30%
Sennen 46 121 167 560 30%
Zennor 16 19 35 121 29%
St. Gennys 60 85 145 510 28%
St. Winnow 21 19 40 141 28%
Davidstow 26 30 56 200 28%
Duloe 76 18 94 343 27%
St. Kew 86 72 158 580 27%
Mawgan-in-Pydar 64 112 176 659 27%
Crantock 57 65 122 470 26%
Veryan 46 96 142 550 26%
Budock 85 113 198 786 25%
Madron 101 67 168 689 24%
Boconnoc 8 6 14 58 24%
St. Ives 407 1,230 1,637 6891 24%
Fowey 115 245 360 1523 24%
St. Veep 8 37 45 191 24%
Morwenstow 55 35 90 405 22%
Pentewan Valley 65 31 96 439 22%
Tintagel 74 158 232 1073 22%
Mevagissey 90 184 274 1313 21%
St. Ervan 22 23 45 219 21%
Marhamchurch 49 30 79 394 20%
St. Martin-by-Looe 26 37 63 315 20%
St. Keverne 68 158 226 1131 20%
St. Austell Bay 30 83 113 581 19%
Cury 28 16 44 227 19%
Deviock 43 109 152 799 19%
St. Goran 47 94 141 774 18%
Michaelstow 11 8 19 105 18%
St. Breock 28 40 68 392 17%
Grade-Ruan 41 59 100 590 17%
St. Columb Major 282 89 371 2189 17%
Pelynt 53 45 98 579 17%
St. Wenn 14 12 26 156 17%
St. Buryan 42 73 115 695 17%
Lanhydrock 8 5 13 79 16%
Sheviock 17 42 59 361 16%
St. Ewe 18 29 47 290 16%
Mawnan 29 108 137 851 16%
Marazion 43 96 139 871 16%
St. Breward 50 25 75 476 16%
Lanlivery 29 5 34 218 16%
Gunwalloe 8 8 16 103 16%
Ruanlanihorne 7 13 20 130 15%
Looe 127 336 463 3021 15%
Lanreath 25 12 37 245 15%
St. Hilary 37 17 54 369 15%
Mylor 49 155 204 1436 14%
Pillaton 24 7 31 220 14%
St. Mabyn 11 30 41 298 14%
Porthleven 81 151 232 1753 13%
Portreath 32 60 92 706 13%
Landewednack 15 50 65 503 13%
Withiel 10 10 20 157 13%
Jacobstow 14 16 30 238 13%
St. Juliot 8 21 29 231 13%
Mullion 50 87 137 1102 12%
Perranzabuloe 159 180 339 2750 12%
Blisland 16 24 40 331 12%
Cubert 36 40 76 629 12%
St. Eval 10 44 54 461 12%
St. Martin-in-Meneage 7 13 20 171 12%
Camelford 81 82 163 1406 12%
St. Just 73 226 299 2586 12%
Paul 6 9 15 130 12%
St. Clether 4 5 9 79 11%
Tresmeer 4 6 10 90 11%
Trewen 5 3 8 73 11%
Boyton 12 9 21 195 11%
Germoe 11 15 26 246 11%
St. Agnes 170 244 414 3920 11%
St. Pinnock 23 9 32 306 10%
Warbstow 17 9 26 251 10%
Gwinear-Gwithian 63 94 157 1517 10%
Breage 48 105 153 1503 10%
Cardinham 23 6 29 291 10%

First Bus Launches Smartphone App

Those nice people at First (bus) sent me an email today telling me about the launch of their new smartphone app. This launched nationwide today after being trailed in Hampshire. It is available for both Android and iPhone. The app for Blackberry and Windows phones is still being developed.

Bus App

I quickly downloaded the app to see how good it was to use. And I will say I am very impressed on how it works including the layout of the app. It easily shows you time-tables, routes, fares and locations of bus-stops.  It informs you of service updates and other travel related news. It also supports Real-time Passenger Information (RTPI) in those areas which have that facility.

All in all it is well worth downloading especially as it is free! So well done to First on launching this app, it certainly make it easier to catch a bus. I just wish catching a bus was a lot cheaper than it currently is.

 

Cornwall’s Second Homes and Holiday Lets by Electoral Division

After the success in getting Cornwall Council to lobby the Government to bring in legislation that would bring some control into the housing market (it will still be a long process); I have been asked for more detail than the actual top 10 areas with the most second homes/holiday lets. And here is those details by Cornwall Council’s Electoral Divisions:

Electoral Division  Holiday lets business rates database 29/11/2012  Second homes Council tax database 27/11/2012 Total Holiday Lets and Second homes November 2012 Total household spaces, 2011 Census % household spaces holiday lets and second homes
St Endellion           559        1,054        1,613       2,930 55%
Padstow           450          978        1,428       3,366 42%
Roseland           246          603          849       2,458 35%
St Ives North           218          593          811       2,691 30%
St Issey           263          279          542       2,215 24%
Looe West and Lansallos           191          328          519       2,170 24%
Poundstock           234          228          462       1,966 23%
Flexbury and Poughill           321          167          488       2,252 22%
St Ives South           100          377          477       2,243 21%
Mevagissey           211          319          530       2,526 21%
Rame             65          497          562       2,734 21%
Tintagel           173          302          475       2,338 20%
St Buryan           152          323          475       2,488 19%
Fowey           185          295          480       2,604 18%
Colan and Mawgan           178          196          374       2,075 18%
Pelynt           218          193          411       2,290 18%
Lostwithiel           118          336          454       2,567 18%
St Keverne and Meneage           145          285          430       2,464 17%
St Columb           296          101          397       2,345 17%
Gwinear-Gwithian and St Erth           237          131          368       2,177 17%
Lelant and Carbis Bay             93          266          359       2,128 17%
Ludgvan           200          126          326       1,966 17%
Constantine           140          273          413       2,493 17%
Mullion           134          212          346       2,422 14%
Looe East           101          200          301       2,128 14%
Hayle North             91          216          307       2,220 14%
Perranporth           130          174          304       2,255 13%
Camelford           117          125          242       1,860 13%
Newquay Central             98          166          264       2,056 13%
Newlyn and Mousehole             43          290          333       2,610 13%
St Teath           106          146          252       2,006 13%
Newlyn and Goonhavern           148          133          281       2,321 12%
St Just in Penwith             73          226          299       2,586 12%
Marazion           101          168          269       2,352 11%
Porthleven and Helston South             88          155          243       2,126 11%
St Agnes           120          150          270       2,363 11%
Falmouth Gyllyngvase             50          188          238       2,154 11%
Newquay Pentire             65          175          240       2,262 11%
Lanivet           126            68          194       1,858 10%
Mount Hawke and Portreath             82          154          236       2,263 10%
St Cleer           125            83          208       2,179 10%
Wadebridge East             75          108          183       1,991 9%
Bude North and Stratton           103          193          296       3,225 9%
Penryn East and Mylor             53          179          232       2,680 9%
Breage             62          127          189       2,273 8%
Gunnislake           115            51          166       2,158 8%
Menheniot             66            56          122       1,632 7%
St Mewan             56            67          123       1,741 7%
Feock and Kea             55            97          152       2,192 7%
Bude South             18            77            95       1,400 7%
St Austell Bay             30          123          153       2,256 7%
Newquay Treviglas             40            70          110       1,791 6%
Falmouth Penwerris             33            89          122       2,104 6%
Penzance Central             25          104          129       2,586 5%
Stokeclimsland             23            58            81       1,653 5%
Wendron             49            53          102       2,123 5%
Altarnun             28            55            83       1,828 5%
Probus             28            55            83       1,832 5%
Ladock, St Clement & St Erme             35            54            89       1,965 5%
St Germans             46            41            87       1,935 4%
Newquay Tretherras             10            60            70       1,621 4%
Wadebridge West               5            75            80       1,925 4%
St Ive             42            35            77       1,934 4%
Launceston North             34            34            68       1,740 4%
Penzance Promenade               7            57            64       1,782 4%
Falmouth Arwenack               6            69            75       2,113 4%
Stithians             31            37            68       2,244 3%
Kelly Bray             14            40            54       1,841 3%
Mabe             21            35            56       2,075 3%
Tywardreath             11            40            51       2,218 2%
Chacewater and Kenwyn               9            28            37       1,688 2%
Saltash St Stephens             39              8            47       2,180 2%
Illogan             23            15            38       1,861 2%
St Blaise             19            21            40       2,007 2%
Roche             18            14            32       1,686 2%
Falmouth Boslowick             13            27            40       2,135 2%
St Stephen             14            23            37       1,993 2%
Hayle South             10            23            33       1,839 2%
Gulval and Heamoor               4            31            35       1,993 2%
Bugle             18            13            31       1,833 2%
Penzance East               2            38            40       2,379 2%
Helston Central               4            31            35       2,116 2%
Camborne West             15            20            35       2,148 2%
Newquay Treloggan             10            23            33       2,033 2%
Penwithick             11            20            31       1,924 2%
Truro Moresk               2            34            36       2,266 2%
Bodmin East             11            17            28       1,774 2%
Launceston South             10            19            29       2,000 1%
St Enoder               4            24            28       1,934 1%
Carn Brea South               9            16            25       1,745 1%
Liskeard North               4              7            11         891 1%
Saltash Pill             –            23            23       1,924 1%
Penryn West               2            23            25       2,098 1%
St Day and Lanner               6            18            24       2,015 1%
Torpoint East             –            21            21       1,817 1%
Saltash Burraton             –            18            18       1,558 1%
Bodmin West               8            18            26       2,268 1%
Bodmin Central               1            26            27       2,443 1%
Truro Boscawen               2            25            27       2,476 1%
Launceston Central             –            17            17       1,617 1%
Camborne North               2            19            21       2,001 1%
Mount Charles               2            20            22       2,129 1%
Callington               9            13            22       2,178 1%
St Dennis               9            10            19       1,932 1%
Truro Tregolls             –            23            23       2,404 1%
Liskeard Central               1            20            21       2,248 1%
St Austell Poltair               4            11            15       1,846 1%
Camborne South             –            12            12       1,594 1%
St Austell Gover               2            13            15       2,030 1%
Truro Trehaverne             –            13            13       1,844 1%
Troon and Beacon               2            14            16       2,277 1%
Carn Brea North               3            13            16       2,315 1%
Camborne Central             –            11            11       2,128 1%
Redruth South             –            10            10       1,954 1%
Threemilestone and Gloweth               2              7              9       1,792 1%
Helston North             –            11            11       2,378 0%
Saltash Essa             –              7              7       1,619 0%
Liskeard South and Dobwalls             –              9              9       2,092 0%
Redruth North               2              6              8       1,892 0%
Redruth Central             –              8              8       1,979 0%
St Austell Bethel               1              7              8       2,017 0%
Falmouth Trescobeas             –              6              6       1,975 0%
Torpoint West             –              5              5       1,716 0%

Next by Parish

The Bedroom Tax created by those with extra houses

As each day goes by, we are creeping towards 1st April. As we all know on the 1st, it is April Fools (until 12 noon), ironic that this is also a significant date in the Government’s Welfare Reform Agenda. Unfortunately the changes are not a joke and Cornwall will be heavily impacted in a number of ways. One item that I wish was a spoof, as the reality is going to be devastating to so many people.

The item in question is what is officially known as the ‘Housing Benefit Under Occupancy’ rule, or as it is more commonly known, The Bedroom Tax. Under the new rules, tenants (Pensioners are exempt)  who are in receipt of Housing Benefit (HB) will be allowed one bedroom if they are single, or a couple. To qualify for an additional (one) bedroom the following criteria are applied:

  • A child
  • Two children under 10
  • Two children of the same sex and up to the age of 16
  • Each child over the age of 10 of the opposite sex
  • other single people, or couples aged 16 of over

If a tenant in social housing (council house), has an additional bedroom(s), your Housing Benefit will be reduced. It should also be noted, this ‘tax’ will be applied even if you want to move to a smaller place, but cannot due to the lack of availability of either private or social housing available in your area.

Some people may argue that people sitting in homes with extra rooms should downsize, and allow their house to be better utilised. But I would say, yes in parts I could agree to this, BUT only if an alternative house is found is suited to them with help given to move.

If you find yourself in the position of having an extra bedroom the following rule applies:
One extra bedroom your HB will be reduced by 14% of your overall rent. Which is around £10 per week using the average Cornwall Council own rental prices*.Two or more extra bedrooms the HB will be reduced by 25% of your overall rent. This adds up to around £18 per week.

It is estimated the impact of the ‘Bedroom Tax will affect at least 1000 of Cornwall Council’s own tenants and at least 3,000 of the other Registered Social Landlord (RSL) tenants.

This extra burden on already hard-pressed residents is on top of Cornwall Council’s shocking decision to make those in receipt of Council Tax Benefit (CTB) pay 25% of their Council Tax. Worse is yet to come, as from April 2014 (for Cornwall), the Governments dreaded Universal Credit scheme will be in operation.

There are a few exemptions. Bereavement, or could afford to pay the rent for the last 12 months without claiming HB. Also tenants who need an overnight carer maybe considered entitled to an extra bedroom. Allowance may also be considered for an extra bedroom for an extra child. I am really unhappy with the words maybe, or considered for an extra room. That could lead to unnecessary extra assessments, leading to added pressure on families. Apart from those I have listed, there are no other exemptions that I have seen or been told about.

I would really urge anyone who is in receipt of the HB to get in contact with their landlords ASAP. Again, I have been told at least 400 of Cornwall Council’s tenants have raised their concerns about the implementation of this scheme. It is certainly not a good time to be on a low-household income in this Country and will only get worse!!

*Rents of other housing provide are higher than Cornwall Council rents and the exact amount of the reduction in benefit will depend on the actual rent

BT Invited to Tender for the JV

Yesterday, Cornwall Council’s Cabinet approved the process to send out the Invite to Tender for the Joint Venture. It did surprised me that after the Budget vote and the loss of a large chunk of staffing costs, the JV was finished. However, it turns out it is not, as suddenly BT have offered a better deal to mitigate against this lost of finance.

I cannot say too much on what happened at the meeting because most of the debate was in closed session (no public allowed to be present). I will say there are savings. But no way near what was hoped. Though it will be interesting to see the final costs the council incurred against the actual savings this contract will bring over the 10 year period of the contract. It would not shock me if the difference between the two was not that much.

As for jobs, there is a number of guaranteed jobs during the life of the contract. It is not anywhere near the original 500. But to be fair, the contract is a lot smaller. There is also an ‘aspiration’ for more jobs, but that is not guaranteed.

It frustrates me that I cannot actually say what has been agreed. After all it is in the public interest, it is using tax payers money and there is only one bidder left in the mix. So it is hardly going to make a difference. By keeping it so secret it just portrays the culture of secrecy, mistrust and misunderstanding of council business.

Council Budget: who voted which way

Things at Cornwall Council have not quietened down post the Budget decision last week. The Members room is an awkward place to be depending on which side of the fence you voted. Morale for the staff is low, with some still trying to comprehend what happened and many are thinking do they have a future at the authority. It is not good, and I doubt will improve anytime soon. The most searched keyword on council’s website is jobs.

A question that I have been asked by the public and staff is who voted which way on the Budget. So I have decided to publish the list (it was a recorded vote) and includes which party the Councillor represents.

For the Lib Dem Motion (0%)

Conservatives Councillors: Barlett, Biggs, Double, Eathorne-Gibbons, Ellis, Evans, Ferguson, Fitter, Harding, Hatton, Lambshead, Maddern, Mann, D Parsons, L Pascoe, Pearn, Penhaligon, Rushworth, Sheppard, Stewart, Stoneman, Tanner, Tucker, M Williams.

Lib Dem Councillors: G Brown, Glenton Brown, Bull, Dolphin, Duffin, Edwards, Folkes, Fonk, Gillard-Loft, Hannaford, Hobbs, Hughes, Kenny, Kerridge, Lewarne, Nolan, D, Parsons Paynter, Pearce, Polmounter, Powell, Preston, Rogerson, C Rowe, J Rowe, Schofield, Taylor, Watson

Against the Motion

Independent Councillors: Biscoe, Burden, Callan, Chappel, Coombe, Curnow, Dolley, Eva, German, Goninan, Greenslade, Haycock, Heywood, Kaczmarek, Keeling, Lugg, May, C Pascoe, Pass, Pollard, Saunby, Varney, Walker, Wallis, Wood

MK Councillors: Cole, Jenkin, Plummer

Labour Councillor: J Robinson

Conservative Councillors: Clark, Currie, Dyer, Eddowes, Gisbourne, Goodenough, Kennedy, T Martin, Mutton, Pugh, Ridgers, Robertson, Rule, Shakerely, Symons, Toms

Lib Dem Councillors: Austin, Donnithorne, Oxenham, Turner,

Abstentions: Harvey (Chairman), Sanger (Con), Riches (LD)

Not present for the vote*

Councillors: Bain, Brewer, Cullimore, Egerton, Eggleston, Flashman, George, Hicks, Holley, Long, M Martin, Nicholas, Teverson, T Williams, Willoughby, Wilkins

That’s it, feel free to share the list for all to see

*Not present for various reasons which could include being on other council business, illness, or some other excuse.

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