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Bonkers Blog October 2018

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6 October - Tax free living

MunurWhen I discovered that the Children’s and Adults’ Services Overview and Scrutiny meeting was to be held at the same time as I was due to be with the local shopkeepers at their meeting I was not too disappointed. Going to all the Scrutiny meetings risks listening to a great deal of repetition but when the other traders’ meeting was postponed at the last minute I lost my excuse to give Scrutiny a miss.

I was not wrong about the repetition, the News Shopper’s reporter lasted 20 minutes and I sat it out until Cabinet Member Philip Read began to read out exactly the same speech as he had delivered to ‘Communities’ a week earlier, Then I headed for the exit. I don’t begrudge Councillor Read glorying in his team’s significant achievement with OFSTED but I am already convinced of it; no need to hear it again.

The meeting was Chaired by Councillor Cafer Munur (Blackfen & Lamorbey) who unlike Councillor Newton forgot to include members of the public in his welcoming remarks; to be fair I think he usually does. The first item on the Agenda was discussion of the Annual Report of the Safeguarding Adults’ Board, the existence of which is a Statutory Requirement. It includes not only the Council but also the Police and NHS.

Councillor Richard Diment (Conservative, Sidcup) wondered how much the restructuring of the Police would affect the Board. I think the rather lengthy reply amounted to ‘wait and see but probably not much’. It will be “monitored closely”.

Councillor Linda Bailey (Conservative, Crook Log) was a little “concerned about the large number of Agencies involved”, about a dozen, which have links to the Board. “At the end of the day will anything get done?” She was told that everyone present had to be “a decision maker”. Buck passing was not allowed, it would generate a complaint to the management of the offending Agency.

Apparently 22 London Councils exempt young persons who have been in Council Care from the payment of Council Tax until the date of their 25th birthday. Bexley plans to join that group. The 100% discount will include all precepts.

A number of questions were aimed at how that would work out if the exempted person shared with others. The answers all boiled down to the same thing. He or she would be deemed not to exist which would mean that if, for example, they shared with one other person that person would get the single person’s discount.

Councillors John Davey (Conservative, West Heath) and Richard Diment asked a number of questions that might trip up a less logical arrangement but the one proposed stood up well to scrutiny.

The annual cost is likely to be in the region of £38,000 and the transitional arrangements at age 26 would have to be carefully managed, there would be no taper.

You may read what Bexley does for Children in care at this snappily titled URL.

Cabinet Member Philip Read (West Heath) then said “I just want to repeat what I said at Communities last week; the presentation of their findings by OFSTED was one of the most incredible and emotional of occasions…”. Yes I am sure it was but my memory is not so short that I have forgotten what the great man said last week. My cue to go.


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