Budget: Extra funding for frontline services

City of York Council’s Executive has announced an amendment to its 2016/17 budget which increases investment in transport, bins and local ward committee projects. Extra money will also be set aside to help with the flood recovery and remodel early-intervention services for children and young people.

Earlier this month, the Government announced that York will receive £781,000 in transitional funding following the original national finance settlement announced last December. The Executive is therefore moving an amendment to its Budget on Thursday to allocate this money. The amendment also takes account of feedback to the original proposals announced at the beginning of February.

The investment will cover:

  • £35,000 to fund new dog and litter bins across the city.
  • £45,000 for Design and Conservation.
  • £300,000 to support changes in Prevention and Early Intervention Services for children and young people.
  • £50,000 to support the remodelling of bus subsidies.
  • £150,000 for ‘Pride in York’ (part of Ward Committee funding) to support environmental projects, grounds maintenance and voluntary groups.
  • £26,000 to ensure that substance misuse advice can continue to be offered at York Carers Centre.
  • £20,000 to support greater capacity in planning enforcement.
  • £30,000 to support sustainable transport projects.
  • £125,000 into contingency to plan for further flood and drainage costs.

Cllr Keith Aspden, Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader of City of York Council, commented:

“Whilst this transitional funding is welcome the council is still facing an overall budget cut from the government over the next four years as well as the rising costs of adult social care. We have therefore focused this transitional money on helping to ensure crucial services such as early intervention work for children and young people and bus subsidies are sustainable in the long-term.

“We have also listened to those who have been responding to our consultation and initial proposals. This means more investment in frontline services such as bins, more money into local ward budgets and community projects, as well as more support for York Carers Centre.”

The amendment and overall budget proposals will be debated on Thursday 25th February, and full details can be found here: http://democracy.york.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=331&MId=8835

Dringhouses and Woodthorpe Ward Committee Grants

Friends of Hob Moor logoDetails of the grants approved by the Ward committee for the current year have been published on the Councils web site. Click here 

Beneficiaries include the Woodthorpe Community Group, West Thorpe Methodist Church, St James the Deacon Church, the Mayfields Community Trust, “Craft & Chat”, the Friends of Chapman’s Pond and the Friends of Hob Moor,

An “on line” newsletter covering the Dringhouses and Woodthorpe area can now also be found on the Council’s web site click here: https://www.york.gov.uk/news/article/54/dringhouses_and_woodthorpe_ward_news_councillors_update_december_2015

 

York Council Tax arrears hit £5.9 million

Council TaxAt the end of March 2015, the York Council was owed £5,968,577 in Council Tax arrears.

This was up from the £5,314,296 recorded at the end of 2010/11.

A total of 14,383 residents were in arrears.

292 residents owed more than £3000, while 6 residents owed more than £10,000.

In 2011 the latter figure had been zero.

7535 liability orders were issued last year and bailiffs dealt with 3637 cases.

The Council wrote off over £370,000 in Council Tax debts last year.

More detailed figures can be read by clicking here

Council Tax single occupant fraud checks starting in York

CT fraud

The authority is carrying out a review of its single occupancy customer database to ensure that it is up-to-date. The council will also carry out a residency check to find out who may no longer be eligible for discount.

Ian Floyd, the council’s director of Resources, said: “We know that most people claim council tax discounts legitimately, but there are occasions when people’s circumstances change and they forget to tell us that their discount should be cancelled.

“The authority has a legal and social responsibility to ensure that everyone in York gets value for money and to ensure that only those people who are eligible receive the discount.”

More information on the single persons discount review can be found on the council’s website at: www.york.gov.uk/SPDreview. People can also cancel their discount online.

Householders who receive a single person’s discount review form can also contact the review team by ringing 01904 820900.

 

Ward funding boost for Dringhouses and Woodthorpe

Dringhouses & Woodthorpe ward will receive a big funding boost this year thanks to plans brought forward by City of York Council’s new Executive.

good-news

The proposals will see Ward Committees given an allocation of a £925,000 budget to fund projects such as street clean-ups and offer grants to local voluntary groups. The process for allocating highway improvements has been partly localised as part of the plans as has some social care funding. Work will also be undertaken by council officers to identify further budget areas which could be devolved to communities.

Here is how Dringhouses & Woodthorpe will benefit:

  • Annual ward Budget: £23,785
  • One-off ‘Pride in York’ fund: £4,260
  • Ward highway programme: £13,991

Re-establishing proper Ward Committees was a key part of the Liberal Democrat manifesto and something we are pleased to have been able to deliver.

The proposals begin the process of devolving power and budgets to local residents and community groups. This enhanced pot of money will give wards the opportunity to tackle local priorities and develop community initiatives. It increases overall funding to nearly £1million from the £75,000 in grants available under the previous Labour Council.

A full breakdown of funding by ward is set out below.
Funding by ward

York Council budget surplus hides underlying problems – Public service quality hits buffers

The York Council had an underspend against its revenue budget of £688,000 in the last financial year.

Most of the surplus came from a £2 million improvement in the “central services” budget which is heavily influenced by external factors such as favourable interest rate levels.

Worryingly all the major service departments were overspent with environmental services (which includes waste management activities) racking up a £941,000 overspend and Adult Social Care (services for the elderly and those with disabilities) came in £528,000 above expected expenditure levels.

An overspend on children’s services was blamed on difficulties with fostering and adoption services.

Landfill Tax payment increased to £4.2 million with 52,370 tonnes of waste dumped.

There was a £325,000 reduction in car parking income compared to estimates. This is partly blamed on unreliability issues at the pay on exit barriers installed at the Marygate car park. Most of the Environmental Services underspend was due to poor performance on waste management.

Following the delays to, and subsequent collapse of, the older persons homes strategy that account showed a shortfall of over £1 million last year. There has been a significant overspend of £1,021k within the Elderly Persons Homes budgets due to utilities, cleaning, catering and repair and maintenance (£325k), increased staffing ratios (£237k) and temporary staffing costs (£332k)

Public Health overspends (£658,000) are put down to the demand for genitourinary (basically sexual diseases) services being higher in York than the rest of North Yorkshire.

The Council is making a payment of £1.3 million to the Leeds City Region business rates pool.

The overspends are a concern as they carry over into 2015/16. Taxpayers will be looking with concern at the first quarter outturn figures (due on 24th September) to see whether there have been any improvements.

The last Labour Council approved a budget for the current year which included £11.9 million in cuts and efficiency savings.

Many of these look like they were built on – to put it kindly – shaky assumption.

Click for full list

Click for full list

The Council has also published updated performance information. Performance in many areas is stable although several wage level, public health,  and waste management indicators are below target.

The outturn report is due to be discussed at a Council meeting taking place on Thursday.

City of York Council’s Statement of Accounts

City of York Council will open its accounts for public inspection from Monday 27 July to Monday 24 August between 8.30am and 5pm daily.

The annual inspection gives members of the public and local government electors certain rights in the audit process.

Any person may inspect the accounts of the council for the year ended 31 March 2015 and certain related documents (comprising books, deeds, contracts, bills, vouchers and receipts) at West Offices. They may also make copies of the accounts and documents.

The council’s accounts are subject to external audit by Mazars LLP.

Following this period of public inspection residents can, from 24 August, question the auditor about, or make objections to, the accounts before they are signed off by Audit & Governance Committee on the 23 September 2015.

York Council slips further into debt

The York Council’s debts increased from £118.3 million to £128.8m at the end of March 2015.

D4NT09 Council Tax bill 2013/2014 for property dwelling band F with 25% discount for sole adult resident

D4NT09 Council Tax bill 2013/2014 for property dwelling band F with 25% discount for sole adult resident

In addition £140.3m was owed on the Council housing account.

The debt represents part of a £317.4 million capital investment programme commitment (which is partly offset by fluctuating revenue balances).

The Council had decided to spend an additional £83.2 million in the current year. Borrowing will peak at £204.3 m.

The inherited Labour programme committed between £13.9 and £26.6m in expenditure in subsequent years (excluding housing)

12% of Council Tax income in the City is now spent on debt charges (interest plus principal repayments)

Details can be found by clicking here

LibDem reaction to Tory budget

Anyone interested in the details of summer budget can find some useful briefings and information here:

BBC
Local Government Association
Liberal Democrats

As a Liberal Democrat, this is obviously a difficult day. Our party spent five years preventing the Conservatives from implementing policies that we felt were unfair, as well as introducing distinctive Lib Dem policies that made our recovery fairer and more sustainable.
Sadly, today’s budget shows the real difference that Liberal Democrats made in government, and are no longer able to make after May’s elections.

Welfare Cuts – The first of an excessive £12 billion in cuts which will fall disproportionately on the poorest. Also, limiting child tax credits and universal credit payments to only cover the first two children in a family sets a worrying precedent for any future Tory changes to child benefit.

Student Maintenance – We protected the maintenance grants for the poorest students and prevented any changes to this in the last parliament. Now the Tories are turning it into a loan and adding it onto students’ debt.generator

Green Energy – We created a system of subsidies for renewable energy production, funded by taxes on energy companies, to shift our economy away from our dangerous reliance on carbon. In government, we more than doubled the amount of energy the UK gets from renewable sources. Described by David Cameron as “green crap”, these taxes and subsidies are now being slashed. This is a tragically short-sighted cut that undermines the promising green energy foundations we have spent five years struggling to create.

Housing – The mass sell-off of housing association properties is a shameful example of short-term Tory electioneering at the expense of the social fabric of our communities. The plans for replacement of properties are threadbare and this whole plan has been ill thought-through. Now, these plans are being joined by the removal of housing benefit for Under-21s, which is going to make it even harder for young people and the less well off to find a home in our communities.

These are just four areas where the absence of Liberal Democrats in government will soon be felt. There will, no doubt, be more – such as protecting the Human Rights Act, fighting the Snooper’s Charter

Locally and nationally, we will continue to campaign for a fairer Britain. You can join us in this campaign by clicking here.

Join us today, and help us continue the fight to protect our environment, our civil liberties, our housing and welfare systems, and fairness in higher education.