Adopt a new Council Tax Benefit Scheme, or else
If it was not bad enough for the Cabinet to lose one of its key Portfolio Holders less than 24 hours before a hugely important meeting, the Cabinet and in turn the full membership of the council is at one of those crossroads. Either route is a dangerous one which will take the authority into hostile territory.
The choice is either take the option of adopting (Option A) the Governments Council Tax Benefit Scheme (CTB). Less the £6 million cut in funding when the Government handed down the powers to administer the scheme. Which means the council having find the shortfall to continue the scheme at the same level; adopt a new scheme (Option C) making all those of working age and in receipt of the CTB to pay 25% of the Council Tax bill; or pull one massive ace out of the deck (Option wing and a prayer) which finds the missing £6 million and does not result in people in receipt of CTB paying 25%.
My guess is the Cabinet will go with a slightly revised version of its previous decision, but with extra money to help those hardest hit. This is Option C. The extra funding consists of £150,000 to the Citizens Advice Bureau and £1 million into a fund called the Transitional Support Scheme.
However, if Option C is not supported, then Option A is the alternative. This will result in at least £5 million in extra savings having to be met. The list is brutal, and has been compiled reluctantly by Corporate Directors. The full list can be found HERE. The list covers the ‘saving’ and the impact of stopping or reducing certain services.
It includes the end of the localism team, or as many will know it, the Community Networks. The closure of up to four leisure centres if they cannot be self-sustaining. The end of Post-16 transport subsidy and the end of 24 hour cover at Newquay Fire Station. These are just a few of a very long list. If all the option in the list are included, the budget saving would be £5.86 million in the first year and £4.58 million in the second. Thus making up most of the shortfall which the Government has handed down to Cornwall Council.
It is not going to be an easy day for the Cabinet tomorrow. Whatever the outcome of tomorrow, it will either have to be ratified, or an alternative option is presented to the full council who will make the final decision.