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.

8 comments

  • What about just rising the council tax of those who can pay in order to cover CTB and front line services? I heard a 1.97 percent rise bandied about earlier – I think people would happily cope with that.

    I’ll be even more up the creek if I have to support relatives that have to pay 25 percent of their council tax when previously they paid none.

  • Andrew Wallis

    The proposed 1.97% CT increase is on top of the money the money needed for the CTB. So if it was a 0% rise, more saving would have to be found.

  • mick martyn

    Andrew, your blog is surprisingly surpressed – where has
    your fight gone??? last week you voted not to pass any of the
    shortfall onto the most vulnerable, now you seem to be backing it.
    Surely cuyts can be made from areas other than those listed???
    Surely there is a middle ground so the council dont pass on all of
    the shortfall??? Surely you are not just throwing in the towel too
    just like Fiona??? If only the big strategic partnerhip was on the
    table, this would just about cover the shortfall!!!

  • Andrew Wallis

    Fear not Mick, I have not given up the fight. In fact I have been working on other proposals with help from the chief financial officer.

    With or without the full-JV, theses cuts to the CTB from Central Gov would still have to be found, all £6m of them.

  • worried worker

    Still desperately clinging onto that magic bullet eh Mike?
    Despite the fact every man and his dog wanted no part of it…hell,
    even lord lavery was out job hunting while it was being drawn up,
    that’s how much faith he had in it, yet here you are; “if only we’d
    sold the lot, BT would’ve saved us all!”

  • mick martyn

    yep you got it worried worker and without it i think your
    title is very apt as if i was a cornwall council employee i’d be
    very worried.

  • mick martyn

    i am pleased to hear that you still have fight in your
    belly for this Andrew, being someone that will be affected by these
    cuts i do not know what i will do (along with thousands of others –
    26000 people affected by this in cornwall) if this carries through.
    I am also concerned about this £1m pot of money available to help
    people who need it – we are all on benefits because we havent got
    income so will we all get an equal share or will it be first come
    first serve and when its gone its gone???? Surely it would be
    better to reduce the whole % impact by at least the £1m so we are
    all treated the same. Please help with common sense
    Andrew…..

  • Gill Martin

    mick, not everyone on benefits has an equal need in every aspect, one could be on council tax benefit only, simply because their personal monthly income is £200 a month and someone else could be on several different benefits including council tax benefit which far exceeds £200 a month in total, therefore the second example in my opinion would find it far easier to pay a percentage of council tax than the first example. Incidentally, Andrew is certainly not lacking in common sense.

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