Reducing Energy Costs
Properties in bands A to D will get up to £150 rebate, that’s 89% of dwellings in our District. There is also a small discretionary hardship fund for bands E to H.
The Government is helping the Energy companies but we need more focus on grants for better insulation. People who need income support can get free insultation, heaters and boilers, if they are not on mains gas. The deadline is currently the end of March, so worth doing right away. Saves up to £40/month. warmfrontuk.co.uk 01902 753404
For tenants, NKDC has staff who give good advice and helps improve your tarrif. Veterans can also access grants.
There are of course, the basic energy saving measures such as dress warmly, shower rather than bath, LED lights, heating just the rooms in use.
There are grants if you get really stuck with your bills, usually through no fault of your own. The Citizens Advice Bureau is really helpful and the website has a geat page on “grants for insulation” www.citizensadvice.org.uk 0808 278 7942. Veterans www.turn2us.org.uk
Supporting Business with Grants
Following exposure of significant fraud on earlier grants, estimated at £1bn, councils are now required to make more checks. Omicron Hospitality and Leisure Grant businesses need to apply. 1. Mandatory Omicron grant based on the rateable value of your business £2,267-£6K. 2. Additional Restrictions Grant £2K or £4K for businesses not rated but severely impacted in December. Deadlines in Feb and March. Contact North Kesteven District Council www.businessnk.co.uk/covid-19-support/
Keeping you informed:
Eight changes to the Highway Code
Those who can do the most damage have the greatest responsibility to reduce danger to others. That means the hierarchy now puts pedestrians at the top and drivers have a responsibility to keep well clear 1.5-2m, from those walking, wheeling, cycling or horse-riding. Cyclists should keep away from the road edge. There is a neat summary on www.gov.uk “highway code” and www.sustrans.org.uk
News on Levelling Up
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, now under Michael Gove has today produced a plan to “transform the UK” – without any new funding and not including tackling climate change. The twelve missions cover all the good things we are doing. Less welcome is the move to reorganise our Councils into ever bigger units, reducing our connections with our communities. More at www.lincolnshireindependents.org.uk
Lincolnshire County Council Budget (80% of the bill)
Anyone remember that the County Council did not increase the tax by as much as the Government expected last year? No? Well, I’m afraid we need it now if we want our roads fixed!
We pay income tax and National insurance into Government just the same year on year, but the amount of income tax that it sends back for local spend has dropped to 10%. A few grants get added for specific extra things the government wants us to do, like “Better care” a fund shared with the NHS.
This reduction in funds from Government and increasing demands, forces Councils to increase council tax, which is a much smaller pot than income tax and indeed, less fair because it is not connected to the size of your income.
The 3% not taken last year for adult care, plus the 1% for care this year and 2% for ordinary services, totals 6%. The Government has adjusted their grants with the assumption we are taking the Council tax rises they have allowed. If we do not collect the tax, we will be short this year, and every year after that. Every 3% is 79p/week on band D which adds to £9.6m/year for Lincolnshire.
The shortfall in highway repairs next year is £12m which is a quarter of the budget. If you thought roads are bad now, imagine a quarter less. I locally raised issues of efficiency in the operation of the contract and nationally raised the impact of too little funding with ministers. Thanks for supporting the campaign. This is not going to be resolved this year, but is important for the fairer funding decision promised (again) next year.
There is however, little excuse for short-changing our residents on service. Revenue reserves went up by £37m last year. In my view, the money for road repairs must be returned, either from Government or reserves where it was stored last year.
In Summary: This proposed 22/23 budget is for £534.515m, an increase of 5.2%. This is based on a 3% council tax increase for social care and a significantly reduced Highway maintenance budget. The government has raised the amount they give us by around £16m to £77m this year and there are more people paying tax. There are also more use of roads and need for services.
Total Reserves are £237m about £2/head. Lincolnshire residents pay the second lowest tax of all Counties.
Getting repairs done – overcoming the backlog
The contractors, Balfour Beatty, lost 19 staff to haulage, and repairs fell behind. We are holding them to their contract and more repair teams have been recruited, aiming to be back on track by March end.
District Council Budget (About 10% of the council tax bill)
The budget this year to run all the services is £15.4m, including a proposed increase in Council tax of £5/year on band D, less than £1/week. The District Council received 50% of the business rates, a bonus for each new dwelling built and fees for services.
We have 3,800 Council houses with rents that were held back by Government edict, recovering now by about 4%.
Police (About 10% of the Council tax bill)
The proposal is to raise the police precept by £10 per year on Band D. 70% of people said they were prepared to pay more for a better service and more police are being recruited. I have also raised concern that the police are no longer attached to home areas and often get drawn into the city, leaving the rural areas relatively unprotected. Please write to Chief Constable Chris Haward or PCC mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org and copy me in.
Mrs Smith’s Cottage; Supporting community heritage
Our artist-in-residence, Nikki Jarvis and colleagues are doing a great job with fascinating workshops at the Cottage. Please pick up a free craft pack from the shop. Opening hours noon to 4pm Wed to Sun. Feb 11th Friendship cards, Apr 9th A buzz about bees. Book here. www.mrssmithscottage.com
Plant for the Planet
Well done Leadenham for a great consultation event at the weekend. New play equipment by the village hall and plans to plant up the Community Field at Leadenham top. www.villagesplant.com
Spring is on the way, days are longer, and covid restrictions lifting. Huge thanks to fellow residents for doing so much over the past year. We continue with courage and resilience, determined to support local communities and protect the best of living in Lincolnshire.
Thank you for all you continue to do in our communities and your kind support. Best wishes for 2022.
Marianne Overton MBE