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Revenues and Benefits latest newsletter

Sandwell’s Revenues and Benefits Service have just released their latest newsletter.

This is a special edition looking at how the COVID-19 crisis is affecting the issues they deal with of benefits, Universal Credit, Council Tax and housing.

Read the newsletter

Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme consultation

Each year, Councils are required to consult on the discounts they can award to people to reduce Council tax bills, through their ‘Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme’ or LCTRS.’

Each Council sets the rules for its own LCTRS. Sandwell is planning to make no changes to the existing LCTRS for the next financial year, meaning the rules used this year will remain in place.  However, they are still required to consult on this decision and would welcome comments or opinions from interested parties and members of the public.

Click here for more information.

New rules on Council Tax Reduction

Sandwell has new rules on Council Tax Reduction – the discount on Council Tax that you can apply for if you are on a low income.  The new rules into force on 1 April, 2019.

There are substantial differences from the old rules and the changes mean some households that previously had a full discount on their Council Tax might have to pay a higher contribution towards their bills, or even pay Council Tax for the first time. You can find full details of the new rules here.

Anyone who is unsure about any aspect of Council Tax, their entitlement to a discount or responsibility to pay, can find further information on the Council website or can contact the Revenues and Benefits Service directly. Council Tax payers are particularly encouraged to set up Direct Debits which can help people avoid missing or forgetting payments. Should a discount be awarded after a Direct Debit has been arranged, the correct adjustments will always be made so that customers are not over-charged. For more information about how to make payments or set up a Direct Debit, click here.

Falling into arrears with Council Tax payments, or notifying the Council late about relevant information, can lead to penalties being imposed and only add to financial difficulties. Never ignore correspondence about your Council Tax or a bill.

Any organisation needing information about how changes to Council Tax Reduction might affect their clients, should contact Oliver Wright, Stakeholder Relations Officer for Sandwell’s Revenues and Benefits Service at oliver_wright@sandwell.gov.uk

Local Charity Launches Plan for Nature’s Recovery

The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country have launched their My Wild Neighbourhood action plan to reverse wildlife decline and improve our neighbourhoods for the benefit of people and wildlife.

Following a report from World Wildlife Fund (WWF) this week showing that humanity has wiped out 60% of animals since 1970, The Trust is asking for everyone to get behind their plan for nature’s recovery.

Birmingham and the Black Country itself is home to 131 threatened species including water vole, otter, skylark, kestrel, orchids and native bluebells.

The Trust is asking for citizens to help create wild neighbourhoods across Birmingham and the Black Country as part of a national Nature Recovery Network to connect habitats for people and wildlife. They want to see flowers bloom along road verges, green roofs across city skylines, more street trees to give people shady walks in the summer, and encourage whole communities to garden for wild plants and animals.

The Wildlife Trust for Birmingham and the Black Country invites you to attend a free event to inspire and motivate people to take action to make their neighbourhoods wild and persuade local leaders of the importance of a strong Environment Act so people and wildlife can thrive.

Please go along to the event from 6 pm on Friday, 16 November 2018, at Brasshouse Community Centre, Brasshouse Lane, Smethwick B66 1BA.

Every delegate will be given a free action booklet.  Refreshments will be served.

Find out more about My Wild Neighbourhood





Anti Slavery Conference Invitation

This conference will help you to understand Modern Slavery and the links with Homelessness.  Bringing together the two worlds of Homelessness and Modern Slavery to raise awareness and connect agencies to help eradicate homelessness and exploitation.

The event is taking place on Monday 15th October 2018 at Tally Ho Birmingham – to book your place please use the Eventbrite link

Places are limited so booking is essential.

Confirmed expert speakers from:

  • The Passage
  • Black Country Women’s Aid
  • Manor Fresh
  • Sandwell Metropolitan Council
  • Adavu
  • West Midlands Police
  • West Midlands Mayor
  • BCC Cabinet Member for Homes and Neighbourhoods

Transport for West Midlands Travel Survey

Transport for West Midlands are currently undertaking a short travel survey (no longer than 5 minutes to complete) to outreach to hard to reach groups and vulnerable groups, and we would like you to promote this survey to these groups especially.

This survey is designed to provide us with the evidence as to how we could ultimately change our policies to support more vulnerable groups and possibly provide them with fairer, more inclusive travel in the future. The link to the survey can be accessed here

Also as part of an incentive to completing the survey, we are giving away £100 in Amazon and £100 in High Street Vouchers. So the text below can go out with the social media link.

“Want to win £100 of shopping vouchers? To be in with a chance, please complete our travel survey – designed to help us understand how you travel and your experiences of using public transport. All completed questionnaires will be eligible for entry into a prize draw to win one of two prizes of £100 in Amazon and £100 in High Street Vouchers.”

More information is also attached.

The deadline for responses is June 30. 
For further information please contact:-
Helen Davies
Senior Policy Officer Direct Dial: 0121 214 7408
Email: Helen.Davies@tfwm.org.uk
Website: www.tfwm.org.uk

Sean Dolan Close – Community Garden

Are you interested in joining the Sean Dolan Close Community Group?
Are you interested in gardening?
Do you have a talent, skill or trade that you could share with the group to help us enhance our local area?

Residents of Bromford Housing have come together to form a ‘new community group’ to develop a community garden in the Close on the land by the pumping station. The group will be the driving force to improve and increase local opportunities for gardening in Sean Dolan Close, organise and develop a range of community activities, to bring people of all ages together to have fun and enjoy the space around them.

We are seeking community minded individuals from the close to join us in creating our community garden or on our committee (on a voluntary basis). Don’t worry no prior experience is necessary and you can give as little or as much time as you can spare.

We would love to hear from you if you’d like to get involved, want to find out more information or if you have any ideas you would like to share with us.

Michelle, your Neighbourhood Coach text or call on 07540677772 or join our Facebook group ‘Sean Dolan Community Group’ for more information.

Scurrah Wainright Charity

The next closing date for grant application to the Scurrah Wainright Charity is the 14 September 2017. Within the UK, the Charity supports a wide range of charitable projects, with an emphasis on social reform and tackling the root causes of social inequity.

The charity favours causes that are outside the mainstream, and unlikely to be funded by other charities.

Typically, grants are between £1,000 and £5,000. Organisations applying, do not have to be a charity, but its work must satisfy the Charity Commission’s definition of charitable purposes and public benefit.

More information

Council Invites Views on New Vision for Sandwell

Sandwell Council in its leadership role in the Borough has recognised that the time is right to refocus Sandwell’s vision for the future. The Council has kicked off the process of refocusing the vision by suggesting 10 ambitions for Sandwell. It is now inviting local voluntary and community organisations to share their views, ambitions and vision for our borough.

This process aims to:-
• Set shared aspirations for what we want for the borough in 2030
• To drive and focus what the Council does to achieve this
• To focus partnership working and influence others to help achieve the vision

Since January the Council have been engaging with various groups of people in Sandwell to see what they think, including residents in the six towns, businesses, the voluntary and community sector and other public bodies.

The 10 ambitions listed below reflect the rapidly changing world around us that bring huge opportunities but also potential threats. The key message of Vision 2030 is to create a place where everyone has the opportunity to thrive and aspirations are raised. A place where people choose to raise their families and a resilient Sandwell that can cope with and benefit from the changing world around us.

Five of the ambitions focus on creating resilient Sandwell PEOPLE

Five of the ambitions focus on creating a resilient Sandwell the PLACE

The Council is seeking your views:-
• Are these the right ambitions for 2030?
• Which do you think are the most important for Sandwell?
• What are the most important aspects to address in your local area?
• How do we ensure that Sandwell is a place where families choose to bring up their families?

Please take time to complete the online survey and have your say:

Ambitions for People

Ambition 1

By 2030, Sandwell will be a borough where families’ aspirations are raised and that prides itself on equality of opportunity and resilience to change.

Ambition 2

By 2030, Sandwell will be a place where people and families are healthier for longer and are safer.

Ambition 3

By 2030, Sandwell’s young people will have better skills and working people will have developed new skills – giving Sandwell a workforce geared up to respond to changes in business needs and the economy.

Ambition 4

By 2030, secondary school quality will have been raised, and superb primary schools will be giving children the best start.

Ambition 5

By 2030, crime will have fallen and anti-social behaviour incidents will be few and far between.

Ambitions for Place

Ambition 6

By 2030, Sandwell will have excellent public transport links to jobs in Birmingham, Wolverhampton, the airport and the wider West Midlands.

Ambition 7

By 2030, Sandwell will have significant numbers of new homes built along key transport routes and there will be major new employment sites.

Ambition 8

By 2030, Sandwell’s six towns will have continued to develop a strong sense of local identity and pride and will be a better environment in which people choose to bring up their families.

Ambition 9

By 2030, Sandwell will host the industries of the future and will have boosted the best performing companies to grow.

Ambition 10

By 2030, Sandwell will have a national reputation for getting things done, focussing on what really matters in people’s lives and their wider community.

Consultation on West Midlands Combined Authority Mayoral function

Sandwell CouncilSandwell Council would like to highlight a consultation on the Mayoral West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) Functions Scheme that has started and will run until midnight on Sunday 21 August.

Having negotiated and accepted the Devolution Agreement with government, the seven constituent councils and the Combined Authority have approved the creation of a mayoral combined authority. This includes the election of a mayor and the associated Mayoral WMCA Functions Scheme. It is this Functions Scheme that is being consulted on.

The ‘Scheme’ is the legislation that says:
• how the Mayor and the WMCA will make decisions;
• who will be responsible for what and;
• how the Mayor will work with the WMCA board.

The idea of a mayor for the WMCA area is to provide a strong voice for the region. They would also be an ambassador for the area, selling it on the global stage. They would be the point of contact when the Government want to speak to ‘the West Midlands’ and be responsible for driving the Devolution Agreement within government and the region.

The consultation is available on the WMCA website, along with the supporting documents which provide you with all the background information to help you come to a view on how the WMCA and mayor will work together.

You are encouraged to have your say and complete the consultation.

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