York Council takes action to ease debt risk for poorer families

The York Council has agreed to pay some of the fees involved in setting up and running a budget bank account at the Credit Union shop at 8 Acomb Court off York Road (tel.03030 300010) .

Details of budget and other accounts available at the branch can be found on the SYCC web site

The Council is taking the action to encourage those reliant on the Universal Credits benefit package to budget to avoid debts. Univeral Credit is paid in arrears and can be difficult to manage.

report to a recent meeting says,

“A recent article on the Association of Retained Council Housing site indicated that:

  • 86% of universal credit (UC) claimants living in council owned homes are in rent arrears (compared to 79% at March 2016).
  • 59% of universal credit claimants living in council owned homes have arrears that equate to more than one month’s rent.
  • Although 63% of UC tenants in arrears had pre-existing arrears before their UC claim only 44% of them are on APAs (alternative payment arrangements with direct payment from DWP)
  • The average value of arrears tenants owed across UC households has almost doubled to £615 since 31 March 2016 when average amount was £321.

A research article expressed concern about rent arrears.

“Not only are numbers of households increasing as UC is rolled out, but the percentage of households falling into rent arrears and experiencing financial difficulty is critically high.

If this trend is not reversed it will have significant impact on local authorities’ rental income streams and the long term ability for housing departments to provide essential services to their communities.

Use of the SYCU budget account and related services by customers could be one way of helping them manage their money effectively, prevent debt and help manage debt where this is accrued”.

Council officials will now help to promote the budget account to qualifying residents.

 

Fresh look for York Connect to Support – Core Information and Advice eMarketplace

Connect to support

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A website offering information about local services, providers and activities and groups for adults needing care and support has a fresh new look this month.

Connect to Support York has been updated and refreshed to ensure that the information on the site is inline with new national changes to care and support as laid out in the Care Act legislation.

The site enables people to find out about activities and groups in their local area; source information and advice, and purchase their own help and support directly from provider organisations.
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Council’s Community Equipment Loan Store and Telecare Service Mutual to launch

One of City of York Council’s first social enterprise ‘spin-offs’ will officially launch next week (Tuesday 1 April).

The council’s Community Equipment Loan Store and Telecare Service (CELTAS), which provides social care equipment, Warden Call and telecare support to vulnerable residents across the city, will become a Community Interest Company from 1 April. The council will continue to have a share in the new company – ‘Be Independent’ – though the majority will be staff-owned.

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Oliver House – “we want some more information”

The Council has confirmed that a proposal, submitted earlier in the year by the CVS, to lease and improve Oliver House, proved not to be financially viable.

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New terms are now being renegotiated with the expectation that a report will be considered at a meeting in December.

The property has been empty for 18 months and sits on a prime site which could generate a major capital receipt for the local taxpayer.

Conversion of residential sites like these to offices is very short-sighted.

The Council would be wiser to sell the site for development as housing and use the receipt to provide offices in a cheaper – possibly sub-urban – location.

This would have the additional advantage of regenerating one of our run down local high streets.

At a recent Council meeting Westfield Cllr Lynn Jeffries posed the following question to the responsible Cabinet member;

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NO cost to taxpayers for “shop4support” web site …..yet

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The York Council is saying that it is not paying for the web site which provides Eaccess to some services for disabled residents.

However it may have to contribute £15,000 a year to maintain the site which lists a mixture of public and private sector service suppliers.

The “shop4support” web site became available earlier in the year but has received little publicity. It bears the City of York Council logo.

Lib Dem Councillor Lynn Jeffries asked at the last Council meeting “how the Cabinet member was ensuring that the information contained on the website is accurate, accessible, comprehensive and up to date?”

No detailed response was provided other than to say that the “family Information service” is responsible for the content.

It remains unclear how decisions are made on which organisations to advertise on the site.

The web site is apparently to be formally launched later in the year