Press Releases week beginning 28 January 2019
Council's SMART working
Hastings Borough Council is expected to approve its participation in an EU-funded sustainable transport study at its cabinet on Monday (4th February).
Known as 'DESTI-SMART' (Delivering Efficient Sustainable Tourism with low-carbon transport Innovations: Sustainable Mobility, Accessibility and Responsible Travel) it is an 'Interreg Europe' project led by Thessaloniki in Greece, with other partners in Italy, Germany, Portugal, Spain, Latvia, Hungary, Cyprus and the UK.
Cllr Kim Forward, deputy leader of Hastings Borough Council, explained :- "Hastings has benefitted considerably from European funding over the years, and continues to do so.
"We intend to use our participation in this programme to explore further possible options for low carbon and sustainable transport along the seafront, so as to more effectively link The Stade in the Old Town and West St Leonards. This will include a feasibility study, and the development of a business case.
"Currently this journey is impossible by 'bus without changing vehicles en route, which is a real barrier to visitors wanting to explore the whole seafront. This project will enable us to consider pilot schemes, which if successful could be used elsewhere. And not only will we share our experience with our European partners, we also hope to learn from them too.
"So I am looking forward to being able to board a 'minitram' in West St Leonards, and travel straight to the Old Town without changing!"
Council action for homelessness
Andy Batsford, lead councillor for housing, commented on the recently published cabinet report on the flexible homelessness support grant.
"The number of our families facing the threat of homelessness is at an all-time high in Hastings caused by the perfect storm of the introduction of Universal Credit, the huge increase in rents and wages not keeping up with the cost of living.
The number of people living in temporary accommodation has increased significantly over the past year, there are currently around 123 households living in temporary accommodation in Hastings. The average length of time people spend living in temporary accommodation has also increased to 130 days. This dreadful situation has a human cost to the individuals and their children but also for the town. The disruption to school life and work has a negative effect for us all."
He added that,
"In 2019/20 we are continuing to use the grant to make sure there is capacity with the housing team to meet the requirements of the new Homelessness Reduction Act. We are also investing in efforts to reduce the amount of time people spend living in temporary accommodation by improving access to long term accommodation, particularly in terms of providing rent in advance and deposits."
The amount of money the council receives through the grant is fixed. More people are living in temporary accommodation and this means the council's costs have increased. The council wants to reduce the amount of time people spend in temporary accommodation, so they are using some of the grant to help people find long term housing through offering rent in advance and deposits rather than spending the money in bed and breakfast.
The numbers of families and the length of time spent in temporary accommodation have created additional financial pressures for the council and will see the additional bill hit £1million this year.
Since 2018, all councils have a duty to work with people at risk of homelessness at an earlier stage, providing an intensive level of support to help them avoid becoming homeless. The Homelessness Reduction Act also introduced new duties for local authorities to provide temporary accommodation for people who are actually homeless.
Hastings Borough Council pay policy 2019-2020
Hastings Borough Council pay policy statement is now on their website and will be discussed at the next Cabinet meeting. The report sets out the councils approach to setting the pay of its staff. The process ensures a consistent and fair approach throughout the organisation. All councils are required to publish their pay policies as of 2019, but HBC have published theirs since 2011.
The lowest pay band in the council is paid at £9 an hour. This is higher than the Government's living wage figure because the council pays its staff (and its apprentices) at the higher level set by the Living Wage Foundation - the 'Accredited Living Wage'.
The pay ratio at the council is 3.5:1. That means that the highest paid employee at the council is paid three and a half times as much a medium level employee. East Sussex County Council compares at 7.14:1.
Judy Rogers, lead councillor for corporate services commented,
"We compare well with local government employers across the country. I am very proud of the fact that we pay £9 an hour as a minimum, plus the employer's contribution to the local government pension scheme. Hastings Borough Council takes its responsibilities as an employer very seriously. The career opportunities available for our staff make a real positive difference to the lives of our residents in finance, regeneration, project management, town planning, legal and democratic services, and housing."