Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Full Council 13th Dec and why this news is not that late 1

Full Council met on the 13th December 2012.  The meeting rumbled on a bit and was eventually finished last Thursday. 

I didn't blog the first part before Christmas after I spilled tea on my laptop.  Turning my keyboard into a 'tea' board limited the keys that would work and I couldn't sum up the contents of the meeting using 'Z','a' and the forward and back slash keys.  In fact if you can say anything using just those four characters let me know, I can offer you a deal on a second hand keyboard that fits a Toshiba laptop.

So full council in very brief including (as always) how I voted.

Council tax support scheme

The government decided it could no longer afford to cover the full cost of Council tax benefits.  To their credit, rather than simply cut them by 10%, they've localised them instead.  Local authorities were free to come up with their own scheme.  The weakness of the governments proposals were around time.  The local finance bill was finalised in November 2012, local authorities had to work out a scheme, consult on it and agree it all by February 2013.  

Of course as we are a Conservative run Council the consultation was narrow (in fact so narrow I struggled to work out the difference between the options) it was cut the support for those on benefits (with some exemptions) or cut support for those on benefits a bit more (with a few more exemptions).

Which ever one the cabinet chose to offer full council, it was defeated.  How a council who has finished the financial year with a £3m under spend can justify hurrying through this was beyond me.  It was also beyond the rest of the Lib Dems, Labour and the Independants, it may have even been beyond UKIP.    

So instead a sort of default scheme will operate next year resulting in very little change to anyone.

A warning note, it is unlikely the Council will be able to repeat this and it has deferred the decision rather than avoided it.  However in the year of housing benefit changes for those in socially rented accommodation and the launch of the Universal credit, deferring another change was a sensible thing to do.

That'll do for now, look out for live, the Lib Dem housing scheme and dropped curbs.  Don't look out for Audit, Governance and Accounts recommendation on the way forward following the report from the external investigation into purchase and management of Manydown, because, although I'll cover it, I really don't think I can make it sound interesting!

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