Sheffield Greens have called for young people leaving care to be given a council tax break until they are aged 25.
Responding to a national Children’s Society campaign on the difficulties many young care leavers find themselves in, Green Party councillors have submitted a motion calling for care leavers to be exempt from paying Council Tax until the age of 25. The investment would lead to savings with fewer cases where housing and social services staff have to step in.
If accepted, Sheffield would join over 60 local authorities which have already taken this step, recognising this vulnerable group.
Councillor Alison Teal said
“Getting into Council Tax arrears can mean fines, court summons and bailiffs. Young people who have left foster care or care homes need time and space to gain skills around managing money. They might not have the same support from family as many other people the same age but that’s where the Council can help. Exempting young care leavers from Council Tax is just giving a bit more support where it’s really needed.”
Councillor Douglas Johnson added,
“This is an investment in a particularly vulnerable group where poor outcomes in future would mean council and social health services having to step in at far greater expense. The exemption would also underline the corporate parental responsibility that Sheffield City Council has for care leavers, giving them a fairer start in life.”
There are around 440 young people between the ages of 18 and 25 who have left the care of Sheffield City Council and have to pay Council Tax. The exemption might lead to lost revenue of around £75,000, though the actual amount is likely to be lower, given the difficulty some care leavers have with paying.
The local authority has legal corporate parental responsibility for care leavers
The submitted motion is as follows: Proposed by Cllr Alison Teal; Seconded by Cllr Douglas Johnson That this Council: – (a) Notes that last year around 75 young people (aged 16 or over) left the care of Sheffield City Council and began the difficult transition out of care and into adulthood; (b) Further notes that a 2016 report by The Children’s Society found that when care leavers move into independent accommodation they begin to manage their own budget fully for the first time and can find this extremely challenging, often with no family to support them and insufficient financial education; (c) Further notes research from The Centre for Social Justice, which found that over half (57%) of young people leaving care have difficulty managing their money and avoiding debt when leaving care; (d) believes that as national welfare cuts are removing financial support and the national strategy on Care Leavers is inadequate, Care Leavers are a particularly vulnerable group for council tax debt (e) notes that Sheffield City Council has statutory corporate parenting responsibilities towards young people up to the age of 25 who have left care; (f) further notes that there are around 440 care leavers in Sheffield liable to pay Council Tax at any one time; (g) believes that, to ensure that the transition from care to adult life is as smooth as possible, and to mitigate the chances of care leavers falling into debt as they begin to manage their own finances, they should be exempt from paying council tax until they are 25. (h) believes that the lost revenue of around £75,000 in council tax receipts is excellent value given the positive impact that exemption will have for this vulnerable group, the duty the Council has under its corporate parenting responsibilities and the savings in reduced instances of housing and social care staff input; (i) therefore requests officers to take steps to exempt all care leavers from council tax up to the age of 25.
Sheffield Green Party welcomes the aim of better access to GPs but says the CCG’s proposals on “urgent care” are not credible. The Party opposes the closure of the Minor Injuries Unit and Walk-in Centre.
Publishing its response today, Sheffield Green Party says:
the aim of providing more urgent care within general practice is welcomed
the solution to rising demand for primary care lies in better, long-term relationships between patients and clinicians in local communities
we recognise many people can’t get through to their GP for an urgent appointment.
the consultation is a sham because it does not explain how access to GPs will improve and does not give an alternative to closing the Minor Injuries Unit and Walk in Centre
the Minor Injuries Unit should be retained at the Hallamshire Hospital
the Walk-in Centre should be retained in the centre of Sheffield
anonymous telephone triage and locating services in the Northern General Hospital is a move in the wrong direction
Douglas Johnson, Green Councillor for City Ward and member of the Healthier Communities Scrutiny Committee, said,
“Many people can’t easily get through to their doctor when it is urgent. There is nothing in this consultation that says this will get better and the CCG is not consulting at all on the closure of the Minor Injuries Unit and Walk-in Centre.”
“The CCG has asked the wrong questions.”
Dr Jillian Creasy, of Sheffield Green Party and a former GP, said,
“The Clinical Commissioning Group seems to have rolled over and accepted government plans to move urgent GP treatment into a large centre based in a hospital. This will damage local care and make it even harder to get an appointment with your GP.”
Kaltum Rivers of Sheffield Green Party said,
“My family have used the Minor Injuries Unit at the Hallamshire and found it a very good service. I have young children and live in Broomhall so it would be very difficult to get the same service at the Northern General.”
The Council will spend about £79 million next year on the Streets Ahead contract, about double the £39 million spent on highway maintenance in 2011-12, the year before the Highways PFI contract was signed.
This puts extra pressure on the council budget.
To help close this gap, the council is proposing to change the way it accounts for the money it has borrowed to make short-term savings of about £6 million a year.
In effect, it is borrowing now and paying off later. Much later – up to 2057 in fact, twenty years after Amey has been fully paid under the current highways contract. In return for £48 million before 2037, the Council will pay about £90 million.
Is it right to expect our children and grandchildren to pay off the cost of today’s road resurfacing? The roads won’t last that long so they will also have to pay the cost of their own roads as well as the cost of our generation’s.
It is only five years in to the 25-year Amey contract and already the council is rescheduling its finances. The Don Valley Stadium and Waltheof Sports Hall have been demolished but the city still owes about £100m in debt for costs incurred in 1990 for the World Student Games. This should have been a warning in 2012.
That’s why Green Party councillors are calling the issue in to be discussed at a Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday 23rd January. We want to know if we’re getting value for money, not just for ourselves but also for the next generation.
More children are having rotten teeth taken out. The number of multiple tooth extractions from children’s mouths has been increasing over the last five years to nearly 43,000 in 2016-17. The cost of tooth extractions for under-18s in hospitals now tops £90 million a year.
The Local Government Association calls it an “oral health crisis.”
A recent report to Sheffield’s Health Scrutiny Committee, which I am a member of, said poor oral health leads to “pain, discomfort, time off work and school, self-consciousness and low self-esteem.”
The main reason I asked the Scrutiny Committee to look at dental health was because it is strongly linked with inequality. Children living in the most deprived areas of Sheffield have tooth decay four times worse than those in the least deprived areas. This is something we need to address in our city.
It is too late by the time the child needs teeth extracting. Our committee felt there should be more work to prevent tooth decay in the first place. Many schools are now teaching about healthy teeth and diets and the damage done by soft drinks. Some schools offer “tooth-brushing clubs.” Other schools and people working with children also need to pay attention as serious neglect of children’s teeth can indicate other forms of hidden child abuse. Get the teeth right and it can really help children get a better start in life.
Services on the very useful H1 hospital shuttle bus between the Hallamshire and Northern General hospitals are quietly being reduced from January 29th.
The changes respond to daytime road congestion. SYPTE say “Changes to the times with buses taking slightly longer to travel along the route to assist with punctuality.”
Currently there are 25 buses running every half hour between 0600 and 1800. That will now be cut to 21 buses during the same period.
People who use the H1 service know that the buses are often packed. Reducing services will increase passenger numbers on each bus.
We need more buses to help alleviate the current chaos in the areas around both hospitals not fewer. Could some of the £3 million revenue from Sheffield Teaching Hospitals car parks be spent on maintaining or increasing the frequency of buses on this route?
Cllr Magid Magid Green Party, Broomhill & Sharrow Vale ward
January is the time of year when many of us have to face up to debt problems – not having enough coming in to meet the outgoings. Many people will turn to local advice services, especially when they have an unexpected life crisis like loss of a job, benefit sanctions, bereavement or injury.
Debt advisers sort out payments into priorities. The most important ones are where non-payment could lead to loss of your home or car or disconnection of your fuel and water.
In 1999, the law was changed to make stop water disconnections to householders. The water supply is such an important asset for a family and cutting it off has a serious effect on health and cleanliness.
However, tenants of Sheffield City Council are treated differently because they still pay water rates with their rent. If they get behind on payments, they can lose not just their water but also their home.
It is time to end this unfair treatment. In December, Green Party councillors asked the council to stop including water rates to evict tenants. The council could either continue to collect water rates without the threat of eviction or hand the job back to the water companies. Sadly, the Labour councillors voted our proposal down, keeping their hard line on evicting tenants in difficulty with their rent and water rates.
Cllr Douglas Johnson Sheffield Green Party, City Ward
Sheffield’s Green Party has warned that a recent council decision means the city will be paying off the Highways PFI for generations to come.
The new decision means millions of pounds will continue being paid up to 2057, 20 years after the end of the contract with Amey.
Green Councillor, Rob Murphy, called it “our generation’s version of the World Student Games.”
Under the decision, signed off on Tuesday 9th January, the cost of borrowing for the Highways PFI will be extended until 2057. The Administration argues that the decision will result ‘in a fairer, more equitable charge between current and future Council Tax payers.’
But, Cllr Murphy says,
“Aside from the fact future generations have no say on this extra burden, it also assumes the lifetime of the road assets will be 40 years, despite complaints by residents that road surfaces are already breaking up.”
Now, Green councillors have called the decision in for further scrutiny.
Speaker for the Green Group, Rob Murphy said
“Not content with making our children pay for their mistakes, this Labour Administration is now getting our grandchildren to pay too. Labour leaders should apologise for signing a deal we cannot afford, as they will be long gone by the time it is paid off.”
“The council is still paying off World Student Games infrastructure costs, despite Don Valley Stadium being demolished. Rather than clearing its debts before spending more, this Labour-run council has again decided to burden future generations with the pain from their poor decision making.”
Sheffield Greens were the only party on the council that argued against signing the PFI contract in 2012.
We know there is huge support for a publicly funded, free at the point of use, NHS. The suggested free use of hospital car parks in response to the £3 million Sheffield Teaching Hospitals parking revenue issue is less straightforward. Practical issues on the ground do need to be considered.
The continued expansion of the hospitals, the University of Sheffield and private schools has left the Broomhill area at breaking point.
Regular traffic jams mean dangerous air pollution from Western Bank to Manchester Rd and close to other main roads.
Hospital visitors comb residential roads for parking spaces while many staff use free spaces some distance away in Tapton, Sharrow Vale or Crookesmoor.
This situation would get a whole lot worse if everyone tried to access free hospital parking. I presume the nightmare experiences people have accessing the Northern General would worsen as well.
Community group BBEST are creating a Neighbourhood Plan for the Broomhill area but they need help and co-operation from the big stakeholders.
Can investment be made to offer viable public transport options and safe cycle lanes to access current sites, including subsidised travel for staff?
Are there outpatient services that can efficiently be moved away from the Hallamshire site and still be accessible for patients and staff?
Can the universities, hospitals and the council agree suitable sites where expansion can take place elsewhere in the city and build that into the new Sheffield Plan?
An overall agreed plan for the area is desperately needed and it will need to consider real people with families going about their daily lives.
Unlike the current proposals to move the Minor Injuries Unit and Walk In Centre from easy to access central locations – proposals that only work for accountants looking at spreadsheets.
Kaltum Rivers Broomhill & Sharrow Vale ward Green Party
Sheffield Green Party councillors and members gathered today at The Holt to welcome the Ofo dockless bike-sharing scheme to Sheffield. Already in London, Oxford, Cambridge and Norwich, Sheffield is the first northern city in which it has launched.
City ward resident and Green Party activist Martin Phipps said: “Greens welcome Ofo to Sheffield and I hope the scheme will soon expand beyond central areas. It’s another step forward in encouraging active transport to help tackle our air pollution crisis, improve health and wellbeing and reduce congestion. With this excellent low-cost, convenient transport option available, we need to be sure users feel safe on good, quality, well-maintained cycle routes. We will continue to push the council to improve cycling provision in the city – as we did in our budget amendment which Labour rejected last year.”
I’m the Green Party candidate for the by-election that surely has to happen soon if people living in Sheffield are to have an MP actively representing and working for them.
I have been involved in the campaign to protect healthy street trees since 2015. I note the pre Xmas Lib Dem candidate interview (Star December 12) and agree it is now about more than the trees. The focus is now on the detail of the £2.2 billion contract signed with Amey in 2012. It was negotiated by the Lib Dems between 2008 and 2011; Labour completed and signed the contract when they took control after the 2011 elections.
Both Labour and the Lib Dems knew about the lack of accountability written into the deal that has led us to the council’s current unacceptable actions on our streets. We will work with the Lib Dems and many other groups to protest against the felling of healthy street trees and to oppose a dictatorial Labour council. But we do so having actively opposed the Streets Ahead contract from the start. A key public service is now run by a private company driven by profit and the downsides of that decision are clear for all to see.
Peter Garbutt, Green Party Candidate for Sheffield Hallam Constituency