MSDC is pressing ahead with its plans to “de-shelter” parts of its sheltered housing that it finds difficult to let due to their rural locations and will be charging residents for all costs associated with sheltered schemes in any way. However, I hope I have helped to persuade it that in Cherryfields changes will only occur when tenants change.
No real consideration appears to be given to the financial and social benefits that occur if people move to accommodation focused on their needs and release larger houses to families. Availability of sheltered accommodation may also delay the need to move to much more expensive care homes and ease load on the NHS by allowing people to move from hospital to a supported environment.
At the MSDC Executive meeting the 2015-16 budget was passed to the full council meeting by six votes to four. We opposition members were concerned at the large sums accumulating in the “transformation fund” without clear understanding of transformation intended. Another issue was a plan to borrow up to £25 million to invest in yet undefined schemes to produce a profit to fund council services. This may be a good idea but do Mid Suffolk have the skills to do this?
We feel that it is unreasonable to raise the district part of council tax by 1.6% when we have large sums from the New Homes Bonus unspent. Putting council rents by 2.7 to 3% is even worse. We are increasing charges on those least able to afford them at a time when austerity is effecting us all.
People on benefits will be able to claim the increase from the government as long as we don’t make it too large but the government is trying to reduce the benefit bill!
The positive part is that the council is certainly living within its means and is determined to be able to deliver good services as the economy changes.
Mid Suffolk and Babergh, are considering a Community Infrastructure levy: a fixed charge of £115 per square meter of each new dwelling or extension built. This CIL would allow no discussions about “viability”, the ability of the developer to pay for land, design, all construction costs, and the 106 agreement and still make a good profit. All new housing would contribute to the infrastructure needed in the area, not just major sites.
The level of the charge will probably mean school extensions receive less than at present. New schools, affordable housing, and roads will still be financed by sums negotiated with developers and defined in a legal agreement: a section106 agreement or section 278 agreements for roads.
Some strategic (large) sites will not pay the CIL but still fund infrastructure by agreement as they do now.
If this is agreed, the districts will build up a large fund and we must set up a fair and effective system to distribute it to build infrastructure. Parishes will get 15% of the money or 25% if they have a neighbourhood plan