Thursday, 14 February 2019

See Copland/Ujima proposals on Saturday 10-2 at SEIDs Hub. Wembley

From Your Shout agency

As a reminder we will be at the Social Innovation and Enterprise Hub (SEIDs) on Empire Way, Wembley HA9 0RJ on Saturday 16th February, 10.00 – 14.00. Drop in to see how the proposals for the former Copland School and Ujima House sites on Wembley High Road have progressed since our last event.

Once you arrive at SEIDs please follow the signs to find us (see picture attached).

We hope to see you on Saturday!

Wednesday, 13 February 2019

Brent Cabinet presses ahead with Bridge Park plans despite huge community opposition

Artist's impression of the replacement Bridge Park

You wouldn't know about the massive community opposition to Brent Council's seizure of the Bridge Park Complex site from the local community, the massive opposition to their plans witb a dodgy off-shore company, or the forthcoming High Court action if you take Brent Council's complacent Press release at face value.

All is well in Brent Council's fairy land!

Here is the press release as published on the Council website:
Plans to create a community hub on the Bridge Park site are now one a step closer after the council's cabinet last night (Monday 11 February) agreed to an enhanced proposal for the Stonebridge site. 

The new plan sets out to offer better leisure facilities, including a 6 lane pool, flexible business spaces, a café, accommodation and more.

The New Bridge Park Centre will have:

  • A six lane swimming pool with a moveable floor
  • Modern community facilities including 2 function halls and meeting rooms - more than twice the size of current provision
  • Flexible business space to support local enterprise
  • 72 space car park
  • Up to 104 new homes to help vulnerable residents live independently
  • 4 Court Sports Hall
  • Sauna & steam rooms
  • Bigger Fitness Gym with up to 100 stations
  • Children's Soft Play Area & Party Room
  • A new Clip & Climb
  • Café Area
  • Studios
  • Spin Studio
  • Changing Facilities
  • Toning Suite
  • Consultation Rooms

Cllr Krupesh Hirani, Cabinet Member for Public Health, Culture & Leisure, said: "I am pleased that these enhanced plans have been approved by cabinet and delighted that residents could soon get to enjoy a local swimming pool, better community facilities and modern flexible business spaces.

"We are a step closer to delivering a hub that caters for the needs of residents now and in the future. Brent has a growing and aging population and the new independent living homes in this proposal together with the additional housing that the neighbouring Unisys buildings will bring, once rebuilt, with help many residents."

For more information about the proposal visit:

Northwick Park Community Garden a step nearer as they win CIL funding

The vision of a community garden in Northwick Park has taken a step forward and is good news, even though a drop in the ocean, in a week when we have read about the imminent demise of the insect population,

The group made this announcement on Facebook:
We are delighted to be able to announce that we have been successful in our application for Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL) funding. We received the fantastic news today. A huge thank you to all those who have supported our application, and shared our vision of making a Community Garden in Northwick Park for everyone to enjoy. We are looking forward to making our little part of the world a better place to be!
Facebook site HERE

Tuesday, 12 February 2019

Video: Ex-soldiers speak out on the cost of war and how their experience made them peace activists

Brent Stop the War has held meetings and demonstrations about the cost of war in terms of victims' deaths, infrastructure destruction, environmental disaster and creation of refugees as well as the financial cost to the economy. Last night's meeting was rather different as we heard first-hand from ex-soldiers whose experience of war has made them into peace activists.

Both speakers are members of Veterans for Peace (UK) but made it clear that they were not speaking on behalf of the organisation but as individual members. VfP (UK) are not a pacifist organisation although some members may be. They believe the country has to be defended but object to counter-productive, dehumanising foreign wars.

The first speaker is Julio Torres, a New Yorker who was in the US army for eleven years including a year in Iraq.  Ben Griffin, the second speaker and founder of Veterans for Peace (UK) served in Northern Ireland, Macedonia, Afghanistan  and Iraq. He was released from the British army after refusing to serve under American command.

Both speakers were open and honest in a meeting which at times became very emotional creating a great bond between the speakers and the audience.

Brent Cabinet approves Knowles House, Harlesden, development

From a Brent Council Press Release

Brent Council's Cabinet has approved a £28 million project in Harlesden to create much-needed social housing together with a new community centre. 

The report to Cabinet laid out plans for Wates Residential to start work on redeveloping Knowles House in Longstone Avenue, with a completion date anticipated during the winter of 2021. 
The works will see the demolition of the existing buildings on the site and the construction of 149 new homes alongside a community centre. 

Cllr Eleanor Southwood, Lead Member for Housing and Welfare Reform, said: "Our Knowles House redevelopment will help homeless residents move away from bed and breakfast accommodation and into more settled and secure homes." 

The new development will also include homes designed for independent living. 

Cllr Harbi Farah, Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, said: "This project will see more homes for people with care needs being housed under Brent's New Accommodation for Independent Living (NAIL) scheme. We aim to support people to live independently for longer and NAIL gives people that freedom and choice." 

This project will attract around £5.7 million in funding from the GLA affordable housing programme. The grant is part of a wider allocation of £65 million awarded to Brent in order to increase the supply of affordable housing in the borough.

Monday, 11 February 2019

Development plans for South Kilburn's Neville House and Carlton House

Ariel view of the present site
The Plans
Brent Council has published (Reference 18/4920) its planning application for Neville House, Carlton House and several neighbouring buildings on the South Kilburn Estate LINK:
Demolition of all existing buildings and erection of a part six, seven, eight, nine, ten and twelve storey building arranged around a courtyard (Western Building) providing 148 units (23 x studios, 53 x 1bed, 50 x 2 bed and 22 x 3bed) including a concierge and residential communal room at ground floor and a part seven, eight, nine and ten storey L shaped building (Eastern Building) providing 116 residential units (60 x 1bed, 38 x 2bed, 16 x 3bed and 2 x 4bed).  Construction of a basement under the Western Building with a car lift and access from Albert Road.  The provision of a shared surface with the extension of Neville Road from Denmark Road to Albert Road, with associated car parking, cycle provision, bin stores, landscaping and ancillary works. | 1-8 INC Neville House & Neville House Garages, Neville Road, 1-64 INC Winterleys and Seahorse Day Nursery, Albert Road, 113-128 Carlton House and Carlton House Hall, Canterbury Terrace London, NW6
As can be seen from  the images above the proposed new development is much denser and with the highest block 10 storeys, much taller. The amount of green space is reduced.

There are only two comments so far on the Planning Portal. One is classified as neutral and is concerned about the amount of car parking that will be available for 264 units. The over makes a number of points:
I strongly object to the current planning applications on the grounds that we will lose, privacy, light and outlook, especially those flats in Swift House that are south facing, looking over Albert Road.

I am the one of these Swift House flats and when I purchased the flat, the Brent council plans to replace Winterley, Neville and Carlton houses were to build 6 storey buildings max, which now have duplicated. This has a negative impact on the neighbourhood as well as on my property.

The main appeal when we purchased our flat was its light, privacy and outlook, which will be heavily diminished with the current planning.

Additionally, I would like to raise concerns about losing existing green spaces, amenity spaces and trees in the areas. The garden land around Neville House and Winterleys House will be replaced with 8 to 12 storey buildings that will make the area packed witch concrete. Also, the huge number of new dwellings will make the zone highly dense and increase the traffic narrow roads in the area.

With this in mind, I would like to object to these plans and ask to reduce the height of the buildings proposed in this plan, to reduce the impact on light and privacy on the surrounding buildings, and to avoid converting an area that now is airy and green into a packed, overbuilt and overcrowded area.
On social housing the Planning Statement claims:

The proposed development provides a 47 % quantum of affordable housing (measured by habitable room), with 100% social rent provision. 

The affordable housing units will be located in the Eastern Building. The provision of 116 socially rented properties represents an uplift of 36 socially rented properties on site compared with the existing provision of 80 social rented properties.

The Carlton House site is identified as having an indicative capacity for 66 dwellings, of which 29 for market and 37 affordable; and the Neville / Winterleys site as having capacity for 137 units, of which 61 would be market housing and 76 affordable units.

The Brent Council Forward Plan 15 indicates that the Cabinet on March 11th will discuss a ballot on South Kilburn Estate but gives no further information. The London Mayor has adopted a policy requiring ballots of estate residents affected by regeneration and one is to be held on the St Raphaels proposals.  This followed pressure from within and outside the Labour Party, including that of Geen Assembly Member Sian Berry. Release of Mayoral funding at £100k for each affordable unit and £28k for shared equity is dependent on ballots being held.

Residents will be concerned about the loss of community facilities involved in the proposals. The Planning Statement comments:
The proposed development will result in the loss of Carlton Hall, a 173 m2 community centre and a small community use (106 m2) on the ground floor of Winterley’s House that is currently used by a small nursery. Carlton Hall was previously used by the South Kilburn Trust, however this organisation has now moved to the new Carlton and Granville Centre within the wider South Kilburn estate. Carlton Hall will temporarily be used as a Doctor’s surgery until the 
 neighbouring Peel site is redeveloped where a new Health Centre Hub is being provided for the GP surgery in the longer term. The proposed Western Building will incorporate a small communal space on the ground floor that will be for the building’s residents use. 

It is considered that there is sufficient community use provision in the vicinity of the site which includes Carlton and Granville Nursey, and Carlton Vale Infant School. Within and close to the wider South Kilburn estate there is a range of community facilities. This includes the St Augustine’s Sports Hall (with community access), The Tabot Centre After School Club, The Xhamia e Shqiptareve Community and Cultural Centre and The Vale Community Centre. There are also a range of local sports facilities nearby including Moberly Sports Centre. 

Sunday, 10 February 2019


Starting with Greta Thunberg, a 15 year old student, holding a vigil every Friday at the Swedish parliament, in the last six months tens of thousands of school students from Australia to Nairobi to Belgium, Holland and Germany have gone on strike calling for urgent action to avert climate change. This growing global movement deserves the full support of teaching unions. Here’s a video for the first UK strike this Friday - 15th February.  Just scroll down to the pinned post below the event info and pass it on as widely as you can.
A representative of the NAHT (heads union) said:
 “Society takes leaps forward when people are prepared to take action. Schools encourage students to develop a wider understanding of the world about them. A day of action like this could be an important and valuable life experience.”
There will be a further global day of action and school students strike on March 15th. So, while this will start with the most concerned and dedicated young people, it is not going away and all of us have an interest in helping it grow. 
They have also called for a day of action at the DfE between 11am and 3pm on Feb 22nd - during half term  see below for details and letter to DfE calling on them to urgently overhaul our education system so that it can play its part in creating a sustainable society. Also see below draft resolution for National Education Union districts aiming to amplify student demands.

XR London Action: Climate Truth for Schools February 22nd (Half-term)

When was the last time you heard school students discussing their lesson on climate change? Exactly, it doesn’t happen.

So, on the 22nd February, we’re taking this issue right to the heart of the UK school system: the Department of Education. We will demand that those in a position of responsibility face the truth and allow educators to teach it. Please join us. Everyone is very welcome, especially families. 

We have sent them this letter outlining our demands: (Also below)
You can help by printing it and sending a copy yourself. If you have children in your family, please add their handprints to the letter (in paint) before you send it. The postal address is: Department for Education, 20 Great Smith St, Westminster, London, SW1P 3BT. Thank you. 

Why are we doing this? 

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) just told the world what our future looks like. Yet the science and economics to explain this catastrophe are completely ignored by UK curricula.

While a few independent and specialist schools do address the reality of climate change, most state schools don’t. It might be covered briefly in Geography and touched upon in RE lessons, but most worryingly, the Science curriculum could mention the topic as little as four times across the entire course of secondary education. The message is that climate change and climate science are peripheral and undecided issues. What students are principally taught, by the time they have finished their GCSE courses, is that education is a process of acquiring qualifications for the purpose of some future utility - a future that now looks increasingly damned. 

We believe young people have the right to know how their planet has been poisoned; we believe they should be empowered to face reality. 

Whether you are a student, parent, grandparent, teacher or just someone who cares about education, come and join us on what promises to be a fun day in which we take our concerns to those in power. Families are very, very welcome.

- Schedule for the day to follow.
- If you can make banners/art work/music/sing/wish to speak etc then please make yourself known (post in the discussion). We’ll be organising some artwork sessions nearer to the date.

To the Ministers and Employees of the Department for Education

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) told us last October that we have 12 years to radically change every aspect of society if we are to avoid disaster. Highly regarded scientists, like Peter Wadhams, have highlighted the political restrictedness of the IPCC and the glaring omissions and over-simplifications of its report. We must accept the likelihood that 12 years is a vastly over-generous window of opportunity. We have killed 60% of mammals, birds, reptiles and fish since 1970. Insect populations are collapsing, coral reefs are bleached and dead, natural disasters are worsening, crops are failing, forests are being felled or burning and forced migration is beginning.
If we keep this information out of the public domain – out of schools, for example – perhaps we might avoid some awkward conversations in the years to come. We could say we never knew. After all, who wants to tell a child that, unless we make unprecedented changes to how we live, we are heading for societal collapse, famine, war and the increasing likelihood of human extinction? Telling the truth exposes us to the responsibility of facing it ourselves. Which is exactly why we must tell our children: not simply to inform them (many are far better informed than older generations) but also so that we can be held to account for our own actions. We must follow the example of the brave young people who will, on coming Fridays, be striking from school to demand truth and action.
When we have had the evidence for decades, why does it amount to little more than a footnote in our national curriculum – a vague and marginal concern? Geography lessons cover the basic theory but in the national curriculum for Science the evidence for anthropogenic climate change is described as ‘uncertain’. The issue could be mentioned in as few as four Science lessons in the entire course of secondary education. In academies there may be no mention at all. If not in schools, where should the public learn about where our way of life is taking us? Power knows the value of ignorance. Our Government is increasing subsidies for fossil fuels while presiding over an educational system that effectively denies the consequences of such a policy.
Imagine if we had the courage to make our schools places where students learned how to repair the damage we have caused. If we have the courage to act now they could be the ones to revive our dying soil, regenerate biodiversity and rebuild the ecosystems that sustain us.But we must act now. We must teach students more than just how to pass tests. We must give them the opportunity to discover what is wonderful and life-giving. And we must urgently equip them with the skills, insight and courage to face what is coming. To do otherwise is an act of criminal negligence.
The evidence tells us that any imagined future for which we are currently preparing our young people is a dream that will never be realised. The lives of every one of our children will be defined by the effects of climate and ecological breakdown. We therefore make the following demands:
1.  The ecological and climate crisis is immediately announced as an educational priority.
2.  Well-founded and evidence-based training is provided for teachers to convey this message, including the scientific and economic causes of the crisis, what governments and society need to do about it and also on how to support young people when taking on this information. This should be implemented by no later than September 2019.
3.  An immediate overhaul of the current curriculum, in the light of scientific evidence and without political interference, aimed at preparing children for the realities of their future on this planet.

Please – because we love our children so much – let’s teach them the truth. We await your response with due impatience and loving rage:

NEU Resolutions

(Insert name of District here) NEU notes:
1.  The IPCC report of 2018 which identified the urgent need to limit global warming below 1.5 degrees above pre-industrial levels and the urgency of taking accelerated action within the next 12 years.
2.  The IPCC have identified that currently global emissions put us on track for potentially catastrophic increases of up to 4-5 degrees warming by the ended of the century.
3.  The action taken by Greta Thunberg, a Swedish school student who initiated school student strikes and protest outside the Swedish Parliament to demand urgent action on climate change - #FridaysforFuture. 
4.  Other students strikes including in Australian on Friday 30th Nov which saw 10,000s of school students strike to demand urgent action on climate change; which are now spreading globally.
5.  That young people in schools and colleges will be in their old age by the end of this century so have a huge stake in what happens to our climate and the actions or otherwise that are taken to urgently reduce emissions to limit warming to 1.5 degrees
6.  The call for a UK school students climate strike on Friday Feb 15th to coincide with the next #FridaysforFuture school strike called by Greta Thunberg. and the further call for a day of global action on March 15th.

(insert name of District) NEU resolves to;
1.  Recognise the significance of the school student strikes and support the student demands for the UK government to take urgent action on climate change. 
2.  To ask Head Teachers to take a sympathetic attitude to school student strikes to allow those who want to participate in the protests to attend and to organise assemblies, tutor time, themed learning weeks and other extra-curricular initiatives to discuss the issue of climate change and solutions to it in the weeks leading up to such strikes. 
3.  To call for government to make changes to the school curriculum to ensure that climate change is taught to ensure a deeper understanding of the problem and the solutions to it; thereby meeting their obligations under Article 12 of the Paris Agreement and for the national union to take this matter up in our discussions with the Shadow Education team.
4) To send this resolution to our national executive members with the request that it is discussed at the JEC.

Saturday, 9 February 2019

Boundary changes mean a fond farewell to Mapesbury and Dollis Hill

The proposals for redrawn wards in Brent have now been published and have already caused controversy. The aim is to even out the population:councillor ratio and in doing so 9 2 member wards have been created and 13 3 member wards. There will be 57 councillors instead of the present 63.

The two member wards will be Barnhill, Brondesbury Park, Cricklewood, Kingsbury, Northwick Park, Preston North, Sudbury, Tokyngton and Wembley Central.

The new Wembley Park ward basically covers the Quintain development around Wembley Stadium and perhaps should have been named Quintain ward. We may well see Brent  council leader Muhammed Butt moving to represent that ward rather than Tokyngton, which previously covered Quintain's tower blocks, given that he is an exceptionally keen supporter of Quintain. The voting population of Wembley Park is expected to rise from 4477 to 8674 with new developments in the pipeline but given that Tokyngton had the lowest turnout at the local election at 29% it is unclear how many of the new 'lifestyle' residents will actually vote.

To many of its residents chagrin Mapesbury, which has a strong self identity, aided by an active Residents' Association, will be split between Dudden Hill and Cricklewood. Dollis Hill which also has a strong local identity backed up by an active Facebook group (The View from Dollis Hill) and former Liberal Democrat councillor Alison Hopkins will disappear, succeeded by Gladstone and Cricklewood.  The change will mean that the confusion between Dollis Hill and Dudden Hill wards will disappear - Dollis Hill tube station is in Dudden Hill.

The consultation will consider proposals for changing the names of the proposed wards as well as the actual boundaries, Preston South and Wembley Hill feels clumsy although historians may enjoy the revival of the name Wembley Hill which was associated with a secondary school of that name which was bombed out during the second world war.

The document below summarises the proposals (click bottom left corner for full size version) and an interactive map and consultation details can be found HERE.  The consultation closes on April 19th 2019.

Is the Old Oak Common project in jeopardy?

 The vision in 2016

The Evening Standard reported yesterday LINK that the biggest landowner of London's largest regeneration project at Old Oak Common, Cargiant, has axed the £5bn proposal to develop its site.

The Old Oak and Park Royal Development Corporation (OPDC) was set up by Boris Johnson when London Mayor and Brent Council leader Muhammed Butt is a member of the board. LINK

Tony Mendes, managing director of Cargiant said the project had been made unviable by the actions of the OPDC:
Old Oak Common is fast becoming known as Old Oak Cock-up. The area was supposed to hep meet the housing crisis in London with 25,000 new homes, but it is going to fail to deliver all but a fraction of that number, at an outrageously high cost to the public purse.
Mendes called for the OPDC bid for £250m government funding for infrastructure to be  'paused' while the Government investigates the £30m of government money already spent and the bid to be properly scrutinised by the London Assembly and MPs.

A commenter on the Evening Standard website  says:
This is a reaction from Cargiant to the Compulsory Purchase Order for their land that the OPDC wants to obtain. Under a CPO, Cargiant will receive just the value of the current undeveloped land, plus the standard sweetener, which means Cargiant makes much less money from the site. On the other hand, the OPDC wants to build at a super-high density of 600 homes per hectare. Cargiant probably thinks that is far too high to sell the homes on the open market. At that density, the danger is that they might be bought just as investments largely from abroad, often with no one living in them.

A spokesperson for current London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, expressed disappointment that Mendes was 'looking to frustrate the project' and said that the OPDC had made a business case to the Government  for Housing Infrastructure Funding that would 'unlock the scheme' with a decision to be made in due course.

We are bound to hear more on this and I hope Brent councillors will play their part in scrutinising the project as one of the interested parties.

Friday, 8 February 2019

Rare chance to hear from 'Veterans for Peace' Monday February 11th at Brent Mencap

Brent Stop the War has held meetings and demonstrations about the cost of war in terms of victims' deaths, infrastructure destruction, environmental disaster and creation of refugees as well as the financial cost to the economy.

Monday's meeting will be a little different.  We will hear first-hand from an American and a British soldier, who are members of Veterans for Peace (UK), about the personal cost to them and their families, friends and neighbours of participation in these wars.  Their voices are not heard as much as they should be and BStW has organised this special meeting so that Brent residents can hear directly from veterans about what war has meant for them, the conclusions they have drawn from their experience and their resultant activism.

The meeting is on Monday February 11th 7.30pm to 9.15pm at Brent Mencap, 379-381 High Road, Willesden, London NW10 2JR  Nearest tube Dollis Hill (Jubilee line) and 260, 266, 297 bus routes.


Julio Torres, Veterans for Peace (UK) New York born Torres was a member of the U.S.  Army for 11 years 2005-2016, including a year in Iraq, with the rank of Staff Sergeant.

Ben Griffin. Ben is an ex Paratrooper, SAS soldier and founder of  Veterans for Peace UK. He served in Northern Ireland, Macedonia, Afghanistan and Iraq. In 2005 he was released from army service after refusing to continue serving under American command in Iraq. Ben served as as national coordinator for VfP until 2018 and remains an active member.

'Terrorist danger' leads to wider road closures around Wembley Event Days

Local residents are used to local roads being closed for several hours on Wembley Event Days with bus routes curtailed or diverted but Brent Council has now issued a Temporary Traffic Prohibition Order that could closed them from 10pm the day before an Event Day until 8am the day after the event. It is anticipated that the prohibition would not be in place throughout those hours but only as 'required by the police' according to the Council's statutory notice below so we must adopt and wait and see the practical impact of the order which will run initially from February 16th to December 31st 2019

The Order is on the recommendation of the Metropolitan Police and due to 'purposes  relating to damage or danger connected with terrorism.'

There are already concrete barriers at strategic points around the area and a multi-agency committee meets regularly to monitor safety issues including the danger posed by potential terrorism incidents when there are such large crowds in the vicinity of the Stadium and Arena.

Thursday, 7 February 2019

Brent Momentum: 'Dismay' over Labour Council's failure to implement national policy

Brent Momentum's first bulletin issued today hits the nail on the head as far as a critique of the  Labour Council goes - I would have added more on planning and the Council's failure to secure sufficient truly affordable housing in new developments and the Council's proposal for a further reduction in Council Tax Support.

Drop in on St Raphael's redevelopment proposal this Saturday - Public Meeting February 27th

Brent Housing are to hold two more meetings with residents of St Raphael's Estate. One of the recent meetings was overflowing.  A drop in is being held in a marquee in a car park on the estate on Saturday  rather than in the Children's Centre of the nearby school. Let's hope the gales do not sweep it away. An additional public meeting will be held at the Civic Centre on February 27th.
We want to listen to residents’ ideas, encourage you to get involved and address any concerns. We have arranged four informal drop-in sessions on the estate. The drop-in sessions will be a chance for you to have one-to-one or small group discussions with senior council officers and councillors.

The drop-ins will take place on the following dates:

  • Saturday 9 February from 12pm–2pm: Open car park space (Marquee) next to the Living Room, 65-80 Besant Way, NW10 0TY

Public Meeting

We would also like to continue to encourage public debate and have arranged another public meeting:

Wednesday 27 February from 6.30pm-8pm: Conference Hall (3rd Floor) Brent Civic Centre, Engineers Way, Wembley, HA9 0FJ
Stonebridge councillors have  put out a video on Twitter assuring residents that they are interested in hearing their views. See the Twitter post with video here LINK

Brent Council seeks £3.3m cut in Council Tax Support scheme with 'potential risk of a disproportionate impact' on disabled people, ethnic groups and (possibly) gender

Brent Council is to consult on proposals that would cut the current Council Tax Support scheme by £3.3m. The proposals are for three potential options  1) an increase of 19% claimant contribution (the percentage of the full Council Tax that the resident actually pays) for all working age claimants including the vulnerable who are currently exempt; 2)  current exempt remain protected but working age non-exempt will pay 51% of the Council Tax;  3) taper off entitlement as income rises so that the number claiming is reduced.

The Council is set to increase Council Tax by 5.99% in the financial year 2019-20. These proposals would take effect in 2020-21 with consultation on the changes taking place between June and September 2019 and going to Full Council in December 2019.

It is worth noting that the report to Monday's Cabinet commits to an equitable scheme but notes under Equality Impact Screening that:
...That said, there is a potential risk of a disproportionate impact in certain groups, in particular disabled people, ethnic groups and (possibly) gender.
Extract from the Report to Cabinet

£3.3M net saving (£3.96M gross)
i.                Additional 19% claimant contribution for all working age claimants. Current exempt (“vulnerable”) claimants pay 19%; non-exempt claimants pay 39%;
ii.              Current exempt claimants remain protected; additional 31% claimant contribution for all non-exempt working age; i.e. Non-exempt claimants pay minimum 51% of Council Tax liability.

iii.             Introduce mechanisms to taper off entitlement more steeply as income rises, therefore making the saving from reduced caseload volumes, rather than the rebates that the remaining claimants receive.

The above options all represent extremes which are unlikely to exactly represent the eventual scheme design, which will be more nuanced, with many aspects – in particular those claimants treated as “exempt” - under review and likely to be changed. However they illustrate the difficulty in maintaining the current size of caseload while attempting to protect the most financially vulnerable. The new scheme is therefore most likely to incorporate option (iii) to either fully or partially meet the saving while allowing the scheme still to protect the most financially vulnerable within it.

Key risks and mitigations

The Council must be able to show that meaningful consideration has been given to meeting the saving from alternative measures, e.g. increasing Council Tax, cutting other services, etc., and why it is proposing to meet the saving by changing the CTS scheme. If it cannot show this, it leaves itself open to significant legal challenge.
·      Ensure that consultation includes meaningful consideration of the of alternative funding methods to meet the saving
·      Ensure that Cabinet and Full Council reports explore the alternative funding methods in sufficient detail and evidence that that Members have actively considered these Financial hardship for residents –
·      the scheme will be designed to protect the most vulnerable, but will necessarily will overall be harsher than the current scheme
·      consideration of a discretionary hardship fund within the scheme
·      consideration of transitional protection for the most impacted claimants

Council Tax collection decreases –
- review Council Tax collection processes to enable greater engagement with CTS claimants before enforcement action commences
Scheme is not agreed by Full Council by the deadline – - robust project management
IT systems unable to provide the desired solution (on time) –
- early engagement with IT providers and strong project management
Scheme is subject to legal challenge –
·      robust scheme modelling
·      engagement with stakeholders
·      sufficient time taken over drafting the formal scheme with Legal Services input Revised scheme does not deliver sufficient savings and / or further cuts required in following year
·      model alternative schemes including one providing a larger cut
·      design a scheme with further changes for Year 2 built into it

 Equality impact screening

The proposed scheme has not been designed yet and there are several options, so it is not possible to be precise at this stage, however one of the design principles is to build a scheme that is equitable and proportionate across protected groups (and other claimants), so specific impacts will be tested in due course and any inequities reviewed accordingly. That said, there is a potential risk of a disproportionate impact in certain groups, in particular disabled people, ethnic groups and (possibly) gender. There is considered to be a much lower risk in the other protected groups, as no potential scheme designs will feature these factors explicitly, and the chance of an unintended consequence is thought to be low – although all aspects will be considered in the EIA.