Cabinet round-up: Council tax, empty homes, park protection, school expansion and more from meeting

A round-up of some of the decisions and developments at the Redbridge Council cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening.

Council formulating new Redbridge scheme to replace scrapped Council Tax Benefit

More than 18,000 Redbridge residents would be affected under new council tax payment proposals.

Council Tax Benefit is being abolished by the Government next March and local councils have been given the responsibility of finding a new scheme.

The cabinet agreed to recommend a scheme to the council that would save �1.6million.

Claimants would lose �1.35 a week on average if council tax support was calculated on 95 per cent of the total charge.

Claimants living in a band E property or above would lose �6 or more on average when support was based on a different band instead.

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Larger deductions from benefit for non-dependent people living in households and the second adult rebate would be removed.

People with more than �10,000 in capital would not be eligible for benefit. Currently, anyone with under �16,000 can claim.

The report said the scheme “best reflects the overall balance of views returned in the consultation.”

A hardship fund may be established to help people in need.

The proposals will be put to the full council and a decision must be made by the end of January.

Fall in numbers of empty properties in Redbridge

The number of empty properties in Redbridge has fallen to 821 over six months in 2011/12, compared to 951 in 2009/10. Cllr Michelle Dunn, cabinet member for housing, said the council’s strategy would target empty buildings with anti-social behaviour problems.

Carers praised after report reveals 27,000 in borough

Cllr John Fairley-Churchill, cabinet member for adult social services and health, paid tribute to the “life maker” carers in the borough after a report revealed 27,000 carers in Redbridge save the council an estimated �344m a year. He said: “We should be incredibly grateful to all those people who work without payment or reward.”

Parks to be protected by royal scheme

The Queen Elizabeth II Fields Challenge could be extended to protect four more Redbridge parks for future generations. Loxford Park, Westwood Recreation Ground, Redbridge Recreation Ground and Hainault Recreation Ground could be in line for the dedication after Barkingside Recreation Ground.

Schools selected to expand to cope with demand for places

Several primary and secondary schools have been selected to expand to cope with rising demand for school places in Redbridge. Cabinet agreed the plans for Chadwell Primary School, Barley Lane Primary School and Downshall Primary School and consultation will soon start at Woodbridge High School and Mayfield School.

Cash injection to improve access to council buildings

Cabinet agreed to spend �150,000 on projects to improve access to council buildings for people with mobility, aural and visual impairments. Schemes include loop systems in buildings, ramps for wheelchairs and pushchairs and accessible toilets. Cllr Thomas Chan, cabinet member for regeneration and property, said the council “needs to do its best” to improve access.

Redbridge to get new ‘healthwatch’ after Government removes LINKs

A local “Healthwatch” is being created in Redbridge to replace the current Local Involvement Networks (LINKs), which aim to strengthen the public voice in the health agenda. A report proposed the exiting network of individuals and groups, Redbridge LINK, be expanded to take on new responsibilities as Redbridge Healthwatch.