Saturday, 29 December 2012

Up Date on Council Tax Rise

Press Release
Parishes under pressure in Northumberland
Fears over local services
As part of the 2010 Spending Review the Government announced its intention to cut support for Council Tax from 2013-14 and to reduce expenditure on Council Tax benefit by 10%; they call it the Localisation of Benefit.
The scheme will be implemented by amending the Local Government Finance Act 1992. The new localised arrangements are central to delivering the Government’s commitment to reducing expenditure through cuts, increased devolution of services through Localism and reducing working benefits which both elements of the coalition Government believe will help to stimulate economic growth.
This Government will only be providing a grant to fund 90% of the council tax benefit liability so the localised schemes have to address how to cope with the 10% shortfall in funding.

Liberal led Northumberland County Council chose to simply implement the cuts calling it the national scheme. They believe this will provide local authorities with the opportunity to reform the system of support for working age claimants.
Figures released by the council show that the South East of the County will be hit hardest under Jeff Reid’s proposals (please see attached release).   

Northumberland Labour Group believes this will damage the ability of some Parish Councils particularly the new larger Parishes in the South East of the County to support its constituents as they have done since 2009.
Services such as assistance for Allotment Associations and staging local events may be damaged through this new regime.

The new scheme identifies those who claim Council Tax Benefit (many who are on low wage jobs) and removes them from the criteria for precept thereby lowering the number of homes eligible in the calculation.

Leader of Northumberland Labour Group said
‘This is yet another example of the ConDem government hitting local government and a local Liberal Democrat council sitting back and accepting it without a murmur. I'm very concerned that in smaller Parishes affected by the changes to Council Tax Benefit, claimants may be identifiable, changing a benefit into a millstone. This is yet another attack on low wage workers and their families who are striving to make their way in tough economic times. This County has many hundreds of people on minimum wage who have to claim benefit to support their families. The simple question for Jeff Reid and his Liberal council is ‘how will parishes deal with a 10% cut in their revenues without substantially increasing local taxes?’

Labour councillors and MPs in Northumberland have joined together to condemn the government decision to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board which acted as a ‘safety net’ for wage levels in the countryside.

Press Release
Labour raise fears over wage squeeze in countryside.
No Christmas cheer for squeezed county as government announces abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board
Labour councillors and MPs in Northumberland have joined together to condemn the government decision to abolish the Agricultural Wages Board which acted as a ‘safety net’ for wage levels in the countryside.
Labour group leader, Grant Davey has written to Communities Chair, Councillor Glen Sanderson urging him to act with haste to set up a review and impact assessment on how the abolition will impact on living standards of farm workers in the county.
In a decision, announced only hours before Parliament’s Christmas recess, the Conservative led government announced a decision to scrap the AWB which will, by the government’s own estimates, remove £240m from farm workers over the next 10 years.
The abolition of the AWB will mean employers in the farming sector will be able to pay workers below the National Minimum Wage (NWM) and it is feared it will impact on young people disproportionately. At the moment, the AWB protects wage levels for around 140,000 workers in the agricultural sector nationwide.
The Trade Union, Unite, which represents a majority of workers in the agricultural sector, said Scrapping the Board will save the government a paltry £50,000 per year yet it will see millions of pounds that ought to be workers' wages transfer to the wealthy retailers and big employers’.
The government decision was welcomed by the National Farmers Union who labelled the AWB as ‘outdated and an administrative burden’.
Labour group leader Grant Davey slammed the decision
‘Liberal leader Jeff Reid, in his festive message, has conveniently missed out his government’s role in taking more money out of the pockets of the ‘strivers’ through the abolition of the AWB. David Cameron’s out of touch government supported by local Liberals and Tories have delivered a bitter blow to the rural economy just before Christmas and to thousands of low-paid farm workers who will be worried about their pay falling. We’re worried that this will have a significant impact on Northumberland’s countryside with more money being sucked out of the rural economy and our towns.

Notes for Editors
  • Labour leader Grant Davey has written to Councillor Glen Sanderson as Chair of Communities Committee urging an urgent review and impact assessment of the abolition of AWB on Northumberland’s rural economy.

How to defend the indefensible - A Liberal Guide to 'misleading the voters'.



 How to defend the indefensible - A Liberal Guide to 'misleading the voters'.

Liberal Democrats in Northumberland will be 'learning their lines' after this Xmas 'must do better' from Lib Dem Central Office. I'm sure voters in Northumberland will see through the PR gloss and spin and remember
  • 2500 jobs lost costing the local economy over £45m and plans to privatise the council
  • £2m cut from local budgets meaning 'chaos in the countryside'
No houses built in 5 years even though the council waiting list is now a record 13,600

Friday, 28 December 2012

Parish Capping by Liberal Led Northumberland County Council

Labour Group Fears for Council Tax and Parish Precept Capping

As part of the 2010 Spending Review the Government announced its intention to cut support for Council Tax from 2013-14 and to reduce expenditure on Council Tax benefit by 10%, they call it the Localisation of Benefit.
The scheme will be implemented by amending the Local Government Finance Act 1992. The new localised arrangements are central to delivering the Government’s commitment to reducing expenditure through cuts,  increased devolution of services through Localism  and ravaging benefits which both elements of the coalition Government believe will help to stimulate economic growth. This Government will only be providing a grant to fund 90% of the council tax benefit liability so the localised schemes have to address how to cope with the 10% shortfall in funding.

Liberal led Northumberland County Council chose to simply implement the cuts calling it the national scheme. They believe this will provide local authorities with the opportunity to reform the system of support for working age claimants.

Northumberland Labour Group believe this will damage the ability of some Parish Councils particularly the new larger Parishes in the South East of the County to support its constituents as they have done since 2009. Such service as assistance for Allotment Associations and staging local events may be damaged through this capping regime.

The capping identifies those who claim Council Tax Benefit and removes them from the criteria for precept thereby lowering the number of homes eligible in the calculation.

Leader of Northumberland Labour Group said:"This is simply Pickleism at its worst, I'm very concerned that in smaller Parishes affected by the cap Council Tax Benefit claimants may be identifiable, changing a benefit into a millstone. This is yet another attack on workers and their families and a taster of the attacks to come with Universal Credit. This County has many hundreds of people on minimum wage who have to claim benefit to support their families. But employers who pay the minimum wage will be faced with ever rising recruitment costs and constant turnover of staff if benefits become burdens." "Labour Group are also concerned that a cap on precept may lead to a major rise in reserves through a genuine fear of whats to come as the loss of trust in this coalition Government hits Parishes."

Alnwick.We really believe the town would be really wealthy if we could get free parking but with time restrictions

Councillor hits back over free parking ‘chaos’


Alnwick’s ward councillor has reacted angrily to claims that there was chaos on the first day of free parking in the town, reported last week.

Alnwick Chamber of Trade chairman Carlo Biagioni told the Gazette that a number of people were still paying to park and others were being caught out by time limits last Tuesday.
But Coun Gordon Castle described the comments as ‘misguided and regrettable’.
“It’s not chaos and it wasn’t chaos,” he said. “One or two people might have been caught out by the time limits but they were made very clear.
“The information was in the county council motion and publicised in the Gazette.
“The time limits were in place for the very reason that we wanted to avoid chaos by keeping the traffic moving.
“A lot of people worked very hard to get it done at late notice.
“You cannot please everybody and some traders are among the worst and just moan whatever happens.”
The Lib-Dem administration at County Hall had opposed the week of free parking and warned that there would be chaos if it was put into action.
On Christmas Eve, the last day of the scheme, Mr Biagioni said: “In general, it’s been a really good result. We actually really believe it’s a good idea to have time limits, especially in Bondgate Within.
“We really believe the town would be really wealthy if we could get free parking but with time restrictions

Monday, 24 December 2012

‘Parish’ the thought as Liberals accused of ‘secret parish deal’

‘Parish’ the thought as Liberals accused of ‘secret parish deal’
Parish Councils with greatest need hit hardest in Northumberland
The South East of Northumberland has emerged as the ‘loser’ as local government finances change. The change which is part of a shake-up of the welfare system and local government finance ushered in by the Conservative led coalition.
Labour councillors have demanded Liberal Council leader Jeff Reid ‘come clean’ on how the council will use a government transition grant to help cushion the predicted shock to local finances as the council have refused to disclose whether they will share that grant with the parishes who are hardest hit.
Areas covered by Blyth (14.83%), Ashington (11.83%), Newbiggin by the Sea (21.31%) and Amble (15.16%) are among a number of town and parish council’s which will see their parish precepts rise by over 10% as Liberals in County Hall adjust the tax base of the county. In the west of the county, Haltwhistle and Prudhoe town councils’ also face double digit rises just to stand still.
The council has removed households that receive council tax benefit from its tax base meaning areas which suffer most rely most on welfare and in work benefits. This will re-ignite the row in the authority over the ‘fairness of the council cuts’ agenda’.
Labour group leader Grant Davey said
‘This is another example of how Liberal Democrats in County Hall are failing to stand up for Northumberland. Parish and Town councils are now faced with a squeeze on their finances and many will have to consider double digit rises in their precept just to stand still. It’s time Jeff Reid came clean and told his towns and parishes just how much they will have to pay for policies dreamed up in Whitehall and pushed through by local Liberals and Tories on the ground’.