On the 25/1/16 Universal Credit will replace JSA or unemployment benefit in Shepway according to the DWP. This may not mean much to those who are employed, but it will have a significant impact on SDC employees.
Through Universal Credit housing benefit will be taken back under the control of the DWP and no longer be the remit of SDC. This will create some job losses for those who work in the Housing Benefit Department. How many has not been announced. Some staff could well be deployed to other roles, but job losses there will be.
One must also bear in mind that growth in employment in Shepway is much lower than all adjoining districts with the exception of Dover. Hence reducing those made redundant/unemployed less likely to find jobs where they can earn the equivalent amount, as earnings in Shepwy are below County, Regional and National Levels.
SDC has a debt of 62.5 million pounds – that is equal to 574 pounds for every resident of shepway (109,000).
Further more SDC projected their debt for the years 2016 – 2020 to be 9.2 million pounds. The auditors set out in their report that it will be 5.5 million for the same period. A difference of 3.7 million or 40% difference between the two statements. 40% is a significant difference. How can this be explained?
There are solutions to this increasing debt burden held by the council. Shepwayvox has proposed Shepway Bonds. It is a proposal which makes perfect sense in these times. There is a lack of affordable housing across Shepway and in former years councils were second only to building societies in granting mortgages using bonds.
We strongly urge SDC to consider reintroducing bonds, the logic for calling for such an approach is twofold.
The first is that SDC could reduce their borrowing costs that now seems to be true given the economic climate.
Second, buying local bonds represents a form of hypothecated saving that will appeal to many in the UK, and so these bonds will be an ideal investment for pension purposes.
They could be sold to residents and businesses, thus utilising the money locally allowing it to work for anyone who cared to invest. We hope that such an idea might at least be explored by SDC with regards to its viability, and if viable implemented as soon as possible.