County councillor response in Voice is a fiction

Cllr Reg Shore, the Lincolnshire County Council portfolio holder for Waste & Recycling, appears to have read a completely different document to me, based on his recent letter in the Spalding Voice.
The county council have not been doing any ‘working with’ as far as South Holland is concerned. What they have done, is tell us that they will no longer be paying recycling credits to the three Lincolnshire councils that have their own recycling contracts. As if that wasn’t enough, they have also told these councils, that the county is taking over the disposal of the recycling that these councils collect.
Just to add insult to injury, the county council has put in place something they are calling transfer payments. The double whammy for the three councils affected, is that these payment will be made to all seven councils, including the four that are not actually loosing any recycling credits, or contract revenue.
Cllr Shore has kindly informed readers that I was wrong about the county council grabbing the £10 a ton South Holland currently receives. At the time of writing my previous blog entry on this issue, I was not privy to the details of the contract the county council had negotiated. Imagine my surprise, when I read a briefing note stating that Lincolnshire County Council had secured a contract that gives them NO REVENUE! Ironically, Cllr Shore emphasises this point in his letter, as though it is somehow to his and the county council’s credit – extraordinary!!
Just to be clear; Lincolnshire County Council will stop paying South Holland DC and two other councils, North and South Kesteven, £42 a ton in recycling credits from 2016. Also, with immediate effect, SHDC will be loosing the £10 a ton paid by the materials contractor and that helped to support our recycling collections.
The financial impact for South Holland will be:
– £377,830 after three years
– £895,570 after five years
Cllr Shore’s claim that every council will gain financially and that this should be viewed as ‘a real opportunity’, is technically correct, but only if you ignore completely the last 20+ years of recycling credit payments received from LCC and the last 3 years of revenue, received for our recycling, from our various contracts.
The proposal now, is that we all pretend that the last 20+ years of recycling never happened, that there were no recycling credits and that we were never able to sell our recycling. We also have to ‘pretend’ that we haven’t managed to achieve a recycling rate of 30%. This is because the county council has offered to make incentive payments for any increase in recycling rates, from this point forward. They have also offered to share some of the revenue they receive from the contractor – a contract that currently provides no revenue – how generous is that!
Had the county council been more upfront and open about these proposals and agreed to discuss openly all of the financial issues, there would have been no need for this hostility. Unfortunately, the only image in Cllr Shore’s ‘big picture’ is the one showing the county council, with every other council in Lincolnshire conveniently cropped out.

As a footnote, the government has just announced the financial settlement
For the forthcoming financial year. South Holland will be loosing a further 6.2% of its funding, equivalent to £0.755m.

Early figures reveal cuts of 16% for some councils

Copied from Local Government Chronicle online
8 August, 2013 | By Ruth Keeling

Councils forced to revamp their savings plans after early sight of their individual funding allocations revealed cuts as high as 16% in 2015-16.

The indicative allocation figures, released last month by the Department for Communities & Local Government, have caused alarm within local government which had expected cuts of around 10%.

Councils suffering the deepest cuts have warned they could now be pushed towards a ‘doom’ scenario where services would have to be closed and vital growth plans ditched.

The extent of the cuts is the result of a series of ‘top slices’ taken from councils’ revenue support grant to fund central government programmes, such as the ‘Dilnot new burdens’ budget announced by the chancellor last month.

The hardest hit councils have been told their funding settlement assessment could fall by 16% in 2015-16. Only two authorities, Wokingham BC and Surrey CC, face cuts of less than 10%.

North Kesteven is among 69 councils facing a 16% cut. Deputy chief executive Alan Thomas said the authority might have to rethink its growth priorities. Its previous £1.75m saving plan will now have to be increased to £2.25m, equivalent to 15% of its £11.5m a year net budget.

Mr Thomas said the Conservative-run council might also review its existing policy of reserving New Homes Bonus payments for infrastructure spending. “I think we are going to have to take a different view of that now and use quite a bit of that New Homes Bonus to support core spending, otherwise we won’t be able to balance the books,” he said.

The authority was already reeling from the “absolutely devastating” government announcement that up to 35% of New Homes Bonus income will be handed to local enterprise partnerships from 2015-16, he added.

Districts and inner London boroughs were the hardest hit group of councils in 2015-16, facing 15% cuts on average. Outer London boroughs, metropolitan districts and unitaries face reductions of 14%; counties will see an average reduction of 13%.

David Huxtable (Con), cabinet member for resources at Somerset CC, which faces a 15% cut, said the reduction matched its most pessimistic plan and would have “a huge impact on services”.

He said: “We will have to stop doing things… We will only be looking after statutory services.”

While the early release of individual figures for 2015-16 has been welcomed, treasurers bodies are due to meet senior civil servants to discuss missing details in the coming months.

Brian Roberts, former president of the Society of County Treasurers and Leicestershire CC director of corporate resources, said: “Having these before the summer recess is very helpful. But there is still a lot of uncertainty.”

(Some) Districts given thumbs up for tax rises of up to 8%

Copied from Local Government Chronicle online
Districts given thumbs up for tax rises of up to 8%
2 January, 2013 | By Ruth Keeling

“Low cost” district councils who have been granted leeway over council tax next year could increase rates by up to 8% without holding a referendum.

LGC has identified the 50 district councils that are set to benefit from the extra flexibility over council tax setting announced in last month’s local government settlement.

Under the proposals set out by local government minister Brandon Lewis, districts within the lowest quartile of council tax rates in 2012-13 will be able to increase tax above 2% without a public vote as long as the increase is not more than £5 in cash terms.

There are 50 district councils in the ‘lowest quartile’ with average Band D council tax rates below £142. They include Breckland BC which has the lowest council tax rate in the country at £65 and where an extra £5 equates to an 8% increase, as well as West Oxfordshire DC and Hambleton DC, where a £5 rise is a 6% increase.

Mr Lewis, speaking to councillors during a Q&A the day after the announcement, said it was only fair that “low cost” authorities be granted some additional flexibility. However, he said it was not clear the same flexibility would be offered after 2013-14.

The potential rises available to each of the 50 councils is listed below. There is no indication yet that any of the councils in question plan to take advantage of the extra flexibility available to them.

Council Maximum increase without a referendum (£5)
Breckland 8%
West Oxfordshire 6%
Hambleton 6%
South Staffordshire 5%
Tewkesbury 5%
Basingstoke & Deane 5%
North Dorset 5%
Wychavon 5%
Hinckley & Bosworth 4%
East Lindsey 4%
Broxbourne 4%
Broadland 4%
South Cambridgeshire 4%
Vale of White Horse 4%
South Oxfordshire 4%
East Devon 4%
King’s Lynn & West Norfolk 4%
Cherwell 4%
East Northamptonshire 4%
West Dorset 4%
Exeter 4%
Charnwood 4%
Stratford-on-Avon 4%
Test Valley 4%
Huntingdonshire 4%
Wellingborough 4%
Sedgemoor 4%
Rushcliffe 4%
Malvern Hills 4%
South Norfolk 4%
West Somerset 4%
Wycombe 4%
Chichester 4%
Eastleigh 4%
Daventry 4%
East Hampshire 4%
South Kesteven 4%
Taunton Deane 4%
Runnymede 4%
Forest Heath 4%
Blaby 4%
South Hams 4%
North Norfolk 4%
East Cambridgeshire 4%
North Kesteven 4%
Chesterfield 4%
Horsham 4%
Fareham 4%
Ashford 4%
Ribble Valley 4%

Local government funding cuts – the truth?

Copied from Local Government Chronicle online
Hardest hit face cuts of 15% next year
2 January, 2013 | By Ruth Keeling

Cuts to some councils’ core grant allocations could be as high as 15% next year – potentially rising to almost 40% by 2014-15 according to LGC analysis of data on the local government finance settlement.

Figures for councils’ individual ‘start-up funding assessment’ – which provides a measure of their main basic revenue streams – show an average cut of 4% next year and 9% in 2014-15.

The settlement – announced by ministers on 19 December – saw ministers focus on their preferred measure of councils’ ‘spending power’ which includes a wide range of service-specific grants and an estimate of council tax revenues and showed an average reduction of 1.7% last year.

But a detailed breakdown of each council’s individual allocation was not published until Friday the 21st – literally hours before the end of the last working day before the Christmas break.

LGC’s analysis of these figures show some authorities face cuts to their ‘start-up funding assessment’ as high as 15% next year. With cuts in 2014-15 set to be even more severe, the sector faces an average reduction of 12% over the second half of the spending review, with hardest-hit council potentially facing cuts of as much as 39%.

The start-up funding assessment measure does not take into account payments made under the New Homes Bonus, which stands to substantially benefit many district councils. Furthermore, figures for revenue streams in 2014-15 are no more than predictions as the new system of retained business rates will by then be in effect.

Those worst affected by the cuts have been offered a transition grant in 2013-14, re-badged as an “efficiency support grant” – designed to limit cuts in spending power to 8.8% but which has the effect of limiting cuts in start-up funding assessment to 15% in the first year. However, the efficiency grant is not assured in the second year and depends on whether councils make certain improvements to the way they deliver services.

Without the grant the worst hit – Great Yarmouth BC, which pulled out of a shared management arrangement following last May’s elections – will face cuts of 28% in 2014-15, creating a cumulative reduction of 39% over the two final years of the spending review period. But even councils not eligible to receive the emergency grant could be facing cumulative cuts of potentially 25%.

The table below shows authorities not cushioned by the efficiency grant will face reductions in their start-up funding assessment figure in excess of 20% over the next two years. Authorities eligible for the efficiency grant are marked with an asterisk.

Council 2013-14 % change Cumulative % change 2013-14 to 2014-15
Great Yarmouth* -15% -39%
Burnley*. -15% -38%
Barrow-in-Furness* -14% -36%
Bolsover*. -14% -35%
Hyndburn* -13% -34%
Pendle*. -15% -33%
Hastings* -15% -33%
Chesterfield -14% -25%
Preston -13% -24%
Copeland -10% -21%

‘Start-up funding’ v ‘spending power’

The new ‘start-up funding assessment’ refers to a local authority’s share of the spending control total. This SUFA figure is made up of two parts: an authority’s revenue support grant in that year and the baseline funding level as set for the start of the business rate retention funding system.

‘Spending power’ includes the start-up funding assessment and 13 other council revenue streams ranging from those affecting very few authorities, such as funding for fish conservation authorities, to more widespread items such as council tax requirement, social care funding and New Homes Bonus.

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