The Widow’s Pension is designed to help create security and safety for families when they lose a loved one. But this week it is under attack from a new wave of Government cuts. With less money being paid to widows, widowers and surviving civil partners from April 2017 onward.
The changes will only effect those families who lose a loved one after April 6th 2017.
The new rules will add pressure to families when they’re struggling most. Families who’ve just lost a parent are learning to cope on a single income and with one fewer parent. The previous system helped to ease the financial stress with a ‘parachute payment’ which is now greatly decreased.
Families with a terminally ill parent are facing the worst of it, with many having planned for life under the old system now having to look again at the support they can offer to their children or loved ones.
If you want the Government to change it’s mind and reverse cuts to bereavement benefits then please share this article with friends and family.
If these changes effect you, friends or family you should visit www.turn2us.org.uk to get support and help.
Calderdale Conservatives have released their alternative budget for the Council. Under their proposals you will pay more and get less. It is a budget that seeks to balance the books on the poorest and most vulnerable in Calderdale.
Council tax increases are occurring up and down the country. You might have heard on the news about the real crisis that exists in social care funding. A large amount of the Council tax increase you will face are the result of something called the ‘Social Care Precept’. This is money that will be spent on social care, however the extra raised from Council tax is simply making up for money that is being cut by central government. Someone still has to pay for social care, under Conservative Government’s plans it will be funded by Council tax payers, rather than taxation revenues collected by the treasury.
Council tax levels
Under the Council’s Cabinet proposals, Council Tax will rise from the current £1,300.85 to £1,459.48 in 2019/20 (all figures for Band D properties). This is a rise of 12.2% over three years. Under the Conservative proposals, the final figure will be £1,432.82 – a rise of 10.1%, and a difference of £26.66. The difference between the budgets is, then, around 51p per week – less for most people as they are not in Band D properties. Despite Council tax levels rising the overall amount the Council has to spend will decrease. So you will be paying more but getting less under this Conservative Government.
Council Tax Reduction Scheme for people on benefits.
Basically this asks those on benefits to pay more Council Tax.
Currently, a claimant in a Band D property will be paying 19% of £1,300, so £247; under the Conservative proposals, they would be paying (in 2018/19) 30% of £1,405, so £422. This is a rise of around 70%. Most claimants, though, will not be in Band D properties, so the actual amounts are likely to be lower, though the proportions will remain the same. This will push more people into debt and poverty.
Discretionary rate relief.
The Conservatives are proposing to cut the discretionary business rate relied for charities and sports clubs pay. This means that they will have to pay more business rates, and will have less money to spend on charitable causes.
Cuts to children services
The Conservatives are planning on cutting over £1m a year from the money Children’s Centres get to provide day care services. This will make those services more expensive for working families who rely on the Centres for day care services.
Attacks on Council staff
The Conservatives want to cut sick pay for the first two days off work, make Council staff take two days off work unpaid every year (a cut of apx £200 in staff’s salaries), they also want to move to spot salaries. All of this will involve major changes in terms and conditions, and it might not even be possible to achieve. Ask yourself this if the Council doesn’t pay sick pay for its staff, will your own employer follow suite? The Conservatives are facilitating a race to the bottom in terms of how employers treat their employees.
One of the proposed cuts the Labour cabinet on Calderdale Council is planning to make will affect disabled children and their families here in Calderdale. This is what mum of two Katherine had to say about the cut:
“As a mum of two children with neurological disabilities and mobility issues. George my son is four he has neuro fibromotis and ataxia plus dystonia and diagnosed with cognitive delay of 2 years. So George is 4 but in most areas he functions cognitively around 2 2 half yrs old. Samantha my 8 yr old daughter as ataxia and mild learning difficulties. Because of her tremors in her body she is unable to write also struggles carrying things and her balance and Co ordination is impaired.
These things make my life hard as it is that’s why I was shocked to find out that the council would consider cutting services that are a huge help to me and other families.After looking at the plans it makes no sense to me to cut schemes and services that have a positive impact on the children and families of disabled children and children with learning difficulties.
To cut these services now when local schools are facing cuts of around 400k leads me to wonder were the councils priorities are by the looks of this not with the families of disabled children in Calderdale.
Councillors of all parties need to look again at viable solutions. They must be other ways to address the lack of funding the council recieves from central government without taking it from the most vulnerable people in our Town.”
The proposed cut was to D Catch funding. This funding provides money to disabled children in early years education to ensure they get the support they need in nurseries across Calderdale.
Calderdale Liberal Democrats are putting forward a budget amendment that will save enough money to prevent this cut.
Councillor James Baker leader of Calderdale Liberal Democrats said:
“Our amendment includes a saving that arises from adopting a ‘nurse-led sickness policy’. A policy like this was adopted by Watford Council and it has saved them a great deal of money. Essentially staff in certain areas with high sickness will have to phone a nurse first when reporting in sick for work at the Council. The health advice they receive helps staff to get back to work sooner. This cuts down on cover costs and agency costs and saves the tax payer money. Officers on Calderdale Council are confident this would save money, and we are proposing it is used to stop this cut. We hope this idea will win cross-party support.”
The full Liberal Democrat budget amendment can be read here
As a group we are proposing to amend the Labour cabinet on Calderdale Council’s budget proposals.
The intention of our amendment is to:
Make Calderdale a safer place to live by supporting the Police to enforce the laws on speeding and dangerous driving around our Borough. Speeding and dangerous driving is a major concern of residents living in Calderdale. In recent months the Police have run ‘Operation Hawmill’. This successful operation has seen a traffic cop back on the streets of Calderdale. We would like to find some finances to support the continuation of an operation such as Hawmill to help tackle speeding and dangerous driving on our streets.
Make Calderdale a cleaner greener place to live by establishing a task force to tackle Environmental crimes including: Littering, dog fouling, fly-tipping, and anti-social behaviour. Parts of Calderdale are sadly looking like a rubbish dump at the moment. Meanwhile anti-social behaviour is in many places making people’s lives a misery. The Council isn’t using powers at its disposal such as Community Protection Notices. We would like to setup a new Environmental Crime Task force to help tackle and address these issues.
Make Calderdale a fairer place by stopping a proposed cut to the support disabled children get in early years education. D Catch funding enables disabled children in Early Years education to get the support they need. We believe that proposals to cut this would have a devastating impact on young disabled children here in Calderdale. We believe disabled children need all the support they can get at the Early Years level in order that they can go to achieve their fullest potential in life.
Council finances are of course very tough at the moment, there is no easy or quick way to find the resources required to implement any of these proposals. We would find the resources required to do all of these things by:
Seeking to transfer some Council buildings to community use. We believe in localism and by transferring Todmorden Town Hall to the management of the Town Council and Brighouse Town Hall to a community group we see them put to better use.
Re-introducing a previously agreed saving on fees. In previous budget consultations members of the public have said they would prefer to see fees and charges for Council services rise rather than more cuts to services. Labour sought to remove that previously agreed saving, we are seeking to re-introduce it.
Reducing the cost of staff sickness through a Nurse Led Sickness policy. FirstCare is part of a sickness management framework that public section organisations, charities, and housing associations can sign up to. Under the scheme, Council employees are required to phone FirstCare to register any sick leave that they need to take. They are then assessed by a nurse on the phone and advised as to what they need to do next. It is estimated by Council officers that if introduced on Calderdale Council for key areas this would save us £50K per annum.
This is a fully balanced amendment to the cabinet budget, it would not require any additional taxation upon what is already proposed, and neither would it require any additional use of balances.
The financial details of this amendment can be viewed below
If you have any comments on our suggestions for budget please feel free to post them. We have put this amendment in the public domain before Budget Council in order that residents are able to join in the democratic process and the debate.
Calderdale Council has has a poor communications culture. It is often the case that Councillors find out about what officers and the cabinet members of the Council are up to via the local media and press releases. The same is true with matters that affect the wards that Councillors represent. Whereas you might expect a Councillor is consulted with and informed what is going on, the truth is that cabinet members and officers of the Council do all they can to by-pass the elected representatives in an area.
This is bad for democracy, already too many decisions on the Council are made by un-elected officers. People vote for Councillors thinking they will be able to make decisions, and would expect that Councillors are briefed on issues, and have an opportunity to get involved in decision making.
A perfect example of this is the recent opening of Elland Bridge. Where one of our local Councillors Marilyn Greenwood only found out about it by chance. Marilyn likes to keep residents up to date with the latest news and information, but how can she do this is the leadership of the Council’s priority is to tell the press before telling members of the Council?
A Liberal Democrat run Council would aim to put decision making back in the hands of Councillors, and members of the public.
Calderdale Council moved out of the offices it was leasing at Dean Clough two years ago, but is still paying £163,500 per year for the space. That means that the Council has paid out nearly one-third of a million pounds for something that is of no benefit for the people of Calderdale.
As the lease has over six years still to run, a further million pounds could well be wasted in the same way. Clearly the Council needs to take action to reduce this wasteful spending or, hopefully, get rid of it altogether.
This also calls into question the wisdom of the Council in entering into long leases that it can’t easily get out of.
Even if the Council’s coffers were overflowing with cash, this would be an unacceptable waste of public money. In these difficult times it is even more intolerable.
The tax-payers of Calderdale and the Council staff who are at risk of losing their jobs over the coming years would be right to be appalled by this wasteful use of scarce resources.
One of the major complaints received on the door step are the amount of potholes around the ward and the poor state of highway maintenance. It’s easy for the Council to blame this on the ‘government cuts’ but Labour have just spent £200,000 resurfacing the roads in Hebden Bridge. There is money to spend, they are just choosing to spend it on doing up roads that aren’t in the ward.
Sandbeds Road is in a particularly bad state of repair, I was out with Councillor James Baker surveying its poor state of repair when Mr Burke who lives on the street came out to complain about the Council’s lack of action. We were promised this road would be sorted, instead all we had was a bit of temporary patching that has already come off. This is a well used road outside of a School and Doctors Surgery, it’s a disgrace that Labour are neglecting our Highways like this.
What have your Labour Councillors done to try and help with problems like this in the ward? I’m going to be standing for Council in May, and on the side of residents like Mr Burke who pay their taxes, and should expect Calderdale Council to get the basics like looking after our roads right.
Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Cllr Janet Battye (Calder) says: “The Council finds itself in a difficult position as the Conservative government has failed to provide enough funding for flood recovery and has also reduced the government grant the Council is getting. Although we appreciate the challenges the administration has in drawing up a budget in these difficult circumstances we won’t be supporting either the Labour or Conservative budget proposals.
“Locally, the Conservative’s budget proposals to withhold staff sick pay for three days would penalise people who are genuinely ill and result in them coming in whilst sick and spreading diseases. They claim that parking is a ‘basic right’ and we must keep parking charges low whilst proposing to increase charges elsewhere, such as the bulky waste collection fee.
“Labour proposed that everyone ought to pay more Council tax to cover the cost of the flooding. We don’t think it’s fair that people on a low income in Calderdale will have to pay more because people elsewhere in the Borough got flooded. The cost of the flooding should be borne by central government and fair taxation systems where the richest pay most, not local Council tax payers.
“If the Liberal Democrats were running Calderdale Council we would implement a host of energy efficiencies such as switching to LED Street lighting, and improving the energy efficiency of Council buildings. We also think the Council could share more back office functions by moving Council staff and services into community hubs that were shared with other organisations. This could free up funds to invest in resurfacing our roads, gritting services and initiatives to ensuring our streets are free of litter and dog fouling.”
Despite assurances to protect the budget the Chancellor is secretly slashing police budgets by over £200 million. Independently elected Police Commissioners will now be forced to raise the additional funds to keep their communities safe by upping council tax.
Buried deep within a ministerial statement the Government today has finally had to admit that it has cut the funding for the police.
Figures released after parliamentary questions also show for example that by 2020 the Nuclear Constabulary, the force guarding vital nuclear power stations, will see a cut in staff of 16%.
Ex Police Chief Brian Paddick said:
“George Osborne promised that there would be ‘no cuts in the police budget at all’ after intense lobbying from us to protect the police budget. Today it has been confirmed that in reality the police will have to deal with a cut of more than £200 million.
“The Government have essentially forced independent PCCs to raise the police precept in order to maintain current spending levels. This just goes to show that you cannot trust the Tories to keep their word or protect those that protect us”.