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Cabinet Meeting: Bury to end free travel to Faith Schools

by timpickstone on 23 August, 2012

Last night was the regular meeting of Bury’s Cabinet which I attend as an Opposition Leader.

Three main issues:

Home to School Travel for Faith Schools
At present the Council pays for a bus pass for children who attend a faith school, which is not their nearest school. This is in addition to paying for bus passes for children from low income families who need to use a bus to get to school.

Now the Council is consulting on its intention to END the faith school part of this, so that only children from low income families get the grants (this would include low income families attending faith schools).

In the school year that has just finished there were 847 children attending faith schools who received a free travel pass in the academic year 2011/12.

The numbers for the top 5 schools are:
St Monica’s RC – 306
Bury Church – 168
St Gabriel’s – 156
King David High – 125
Cannon Slade – 80

One of our local schools here in Prestwich, St Monica’s is clearly going to be affected by this change, as so many of the children travel down Radcliffe and other areas. In Prestwich I suspect the main impact will be Jewish children who travel down to King David’s in Crumpsall, and probably a smaller number who go up to Bury Church.

The amazing part of this story is the complete U-Turn that the Labour Party Bury has done in two years. In 2010 the SAME proposal was made by the then minority Conservative administration. Labour were completely opposed the whole process and did everything they could to block it. I remember them shouting ‘SHAME’ as people (including me) voted to CONSULT on the issue in November 2010. Obviously their values have changed in the meantime.

The plans will now be consulted on over the coming months.

Council Tax Discount Local Scheme

As part of its policy of ‘localism’ the Coalition Government is ending the national council tax beneift scheme, and giving the money to local councils to have their own scheme. There are two ‘catches’ – (1) the Government is keen to ensure pensioners are proteced, so Councils are not being allowed to cut CT beneift for pensioners, and (2) the money is difficult – only 90% of the current cost is being given to Councils, however Councils are being given new powers to raise money from Council Tax to make up (most of) the difference).

Bury’s proposal is good in my view on the principle here. They propose to maximise the new income raising powers the Government has given us (charing council tax on empty homes and on second homes) which will cover about 70% of the funding gap.

There are a range of changes proposes which will affect some people who currently receive CT benefit which are now being consulted on. The most significant is that the beneift will be restricted at BAND B of council tax – ie if you’re currently receiving CT benefit for a Band D house, you’ll probably still get it, but only at Band B levels (which is obviously much less). The savings theshold is being brought down to £6,000 (ie if you have savings of more than £6,000 then you won’t get any benefit). I think this is particularly harsh.

This is a consultation, so I would urge people have a good look at the proposals and make their views known.

Empty Homes Radcliffe Pilot

A good piece of news about the Council’s ‘pilot’ scheme in Radcliffe to bring back into use a number of currently empty homes, which is a great idea. The scheme will hopefully bring back into use about 20 homes, all of them in areas which are particularly blighted by a number of empty properties.

Hopefully this sort of scheme can be extended elsewhere in the future.

The meeting also considered a number of other issues:
– Annual Report to Tenants
– Financial Monitoring Report
– Performance Monitoring Report
– Transfer of Public Health to the Council update
– Complaints policy in Adult Care

Information on these and the papers for the whole meeting are here. Any questions please ask!

   1 Comment

One Response

  1. Hello,

    I have only just heard about this. I live in Prestwich and have been attending my nearest Faith School King David High. I am now in my last year of 6th Form and wondereing why I have never heard of this scheme. So have I been paying bus fare for no reason to and from school the past years?

    My brother has just started at the high school, can he still apply?


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