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Sefton families will be among many hard-hit by Government’s planned Universal Credit cut

Cllr Trish Hardy
Cllr Trish Hardy

With just a month to go until Government plans to reduce Universal Credit by £20 a week are scheduled to come effect Cllr Trish Hardy, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, has added her voice to the widespread concern about the cut and the effect it will have on Sefton families.

Working families

Cllr Hardy said: “A high proportion of households across Sefton, including many working families, rely on Universal Credit and this number has increased as a result of the pandemic and the effect it has had locally on jobs.

“If the Government goes ahead with its plans to cut Universal Credit by £20 next month it will be a disaster for those families many of whom are already struggling to make ends meet.”

Last week, 100 organisations, including charities, children’s doctors and public health experts wrote to the Prime Minister calling on him to abandon his Government’s plans to go ahead with the £20 reduction. Among the 100 signatories to the letter were Business in the Community which was founded by the Prince of Wales, Oxfam, Save the Children, the Trussell Trust, the Royal College of Paediatricians and Child Health, and the Conservative thinktank Bright Blue.

Analysis by Citizens Advice has shown that £20 a week is equivalent to six days of energy costs or three days of food costs for a low-income family. Separate academic research shows 63% of people supported the £20 increase during the pandemic, and 50% supported making it permanent.

Slashing

Cllr Hardy continued: “It has been estimated that by slashing Universal Credit by £20 each week or £1,040 per year, the Government is going to push around ½ million families across the country, including many in Sefton, into poverty.

“And we know that as well as the day-to-day strain it puts on individuals and families, poverty has the largest impact on infant mortality and during childhood, it is the first step to poor physical and mental health.

“During the pandemic more Sefton families have fallen falling into the absolute or relative low-income category and we have seen eligibility for free school meals rise.”

“Sefton has a high proportion of jobs that tend to be lower paid and even with the £20 increase in Universal Credit, working families have found themselves in poverty.

“Taking that money away from them next month represents a disaster, particularly when you consider the health issues these workers and their children will face and will make a mockery of any claims by the Prime Minister’s claim to be on the side of families.”

Emergency help

She added: “During the COIVID-19 pandemic Sefton Council has given out over 4,800 payments for emergency help and made over 2,700 Discretionary Housing Payments to help people struggling with rents and bills.

“Our website contains information for people on Universal Credit, benefits and a range of related topics including help with rent and Council Tax and the Borough’s Foodbank Network at www.sefton.gov.uk/advice-benefits”.

Sefton helps Southport sports club swing for success

Sefton Council have helped a Southport Sports Club ensure they’re swinging for success after contributing towards brand new safety netting for their cricket and football offer.

Fleetwood Hesketh Sports Club on Fylde Road, Southport were recently given a grant of nearly £20,000 to erect much needed mesh netting to stop wayward cricket balls and footballs from leaving the grounds and hitting road users or neighbourhood properties.

A total of £19,978 was granted to the club from Sefton Council’s Community Transition Fund, which now forms the first stage of a major refurbishment and improvement project the sports club are undertaking.

Bobby Addison, Chairman of Fleetwood Hesketh Sports Club, thanked Sefton Council, saying without the grant they would have been forced to suspend cricket and football at the venue.

Bobby said: “Many residents around Marshside and those who have visited our club will remember our wonderful tree lined boundary with Fylde Road.

“Unfortunately we became aware of a need to remove and replace these trees as they were becoming a health and safety issue.

“Once these works were complete, we needed a long lasting alternative to protect our neighbours and we approached Sefton Council for help.

“The council were fantastic and gave us a much needed grant of £19,978 which allowed us to purchase and erect the safety netting.

“Without the council’s help we may have had to suspend cricket and football at the ground, which would have had a significantly negative impact on our community.

“This is the first stage of the project and we are now looking to raise funds for a new fence and ball stop netting for our other boundary.”

Cllr Ian Moncur, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing, said: “Fleetwood Hesketh is a wonderful community sporting venue that has been serving Marshside and Southport for nearly a hundred years!

“To be able to see the physical benefits of what the Sefton Community Transition Fund can do is incredibly heartwarming and we are delighted that we have been able to play a part in ensuring both cricket and football remains a staple part of what Fleetwood Hesketh offers.

“The Community Transition Fund has been developed by Sefton Council for this exact reason; to assist community organisations on a one off basis to ensure their long term success which will be passed onto our residents and neighbourhoods.”

To find out more about the fund, please visit www.sefton.gov.uk/communityfund

For more information on Fleetwood Hesketh Sports Club, visit www.fleetwoodhesketh.com

Education spending at pre-2010 levels and changes to Pupil Premium Funding allocation will see Borough’s schools lose out, says Council’s education cabinet member

Cllr Diane Roscoe, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Education, has slammed the news that school spending per pupil in England is lower than it was in 2010.

And, she has criticised a change in the way the Government allocates Pupil Premium Funding, which is based on the number of children eligible for free school meals. Cllr Roscoe wrote to the Secretary of State for Education in May to highlight how Sefton’s schools would lose out on almost £800,000 but received no satisfactory response.

Cuts

According to research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies, in 2019/2020, school spending in England was just over £6,500 per pupil. In real terms, this is 9% lower than in 2009-10. The Institute says that over the past 10 years schools in disadvantaged areas, which include Sefton, have faced the largest levels of cuts.

The Government’s decision to base how it calculates Pupil Premium Funding on the number of children entitled to free school meals at each school in October last year rather than January this year, is likely to mean schools in the most deprived 10% of areas in England will lose out on cash. This is because schools in these areas are likely to enrol more than twice the number of pupils eligible for free school meals as those with the lowest levels of deprivation.

Severe

Cllr Roscoe said: “It is widely acknowledged that many young people’s education has been severely disrupted and particularly in areas such as Sefton where the effects of COVID-19 have been most severe.

“This lack of overall funding and change to the allocation of Pupil Premium Funding means that pupils attending our schools will have a much harder time catching up with lost learning. This is despite the Prime Minister’s claim of a levelling up agenda for poorer parts of the country in the wake of the pandemic.”

The Government has allocated over £7 billion extra for schools in 2022–23 and has announced that Academic mentors are being placed in selected schools across the country to work in small groups with over 250,000 students most in need of support this year. However, core, per pupil funding will still be between one and two percent lower than the 2010 highpoint.

Potential

Cllr Roscoe continued: “In May, I wrote to the Secretary of State for Education pointing out that over 400 primary school pupils and 179 secondary pupils will not be allocated funding due to the Government changing the calculation date to October 2020. In the letter, I highlighted that this meant that Sefton schools will lose out on almost £800,000 to help disadvantaged pupils improve their progress and reach their full potential.

“In his reply, Nick Gibb Minister of State for School Standards failed to satisfactorily address my question.”

She added: “Many households across Sefton have been hard-hit by COVID-19 and despite the valiant work of our teachers and school staff to provide online learning as well as classroom learning for those who could not stay at home through the pandemic, our young people have seen a significant interruption to their education.

“At a time when they need to be investing in young people’s education and their futures and levelling up funding allocations between affluent and disadvantaged areas such as ours, the Prime Minister and his colleagues are completely failing to do so.”

Challenge

Luke Sibieta, Research Fellow at the Institute for Fiscal Studies said the fact that schools funding will not have recovered to 2009 levels by 2022 will make it that much harder for schools to address the major challenge of helping pupils catch up on lost learning alongside everything else they are required to do.

He said: “Schools serving disadvantaged communities face the biggest challenges.

“They faced the biggest cuts up to 2019 and are now receiving the smallest rises.”

Celebrate Southport’s Heritage with brand new behind the scenes tours

Southport business and building owners are throwing open their doors to the public for a unique behind the scenes look at the town’s hidden heritage gems.

Thanks to the work of Sefton Council’s Southport Townscape Heritage Project, over a dozen special events are showing off the town’s wonderfully varied buildings and historical quirks as part of the national Heritage Open Days festival in September.

Running from Friday, September 10 to Sunday, September 19th, residents and visitors to the town will be able to get enjoy a mix of guided walking tours, visits to historic buildings and more, thanks to the generosity and welcoming nature of a number of Southport organisations and businesses.

Events planned for the nine days include:

An architectural tour of The Atkinson

Lost Picture Palaces Walk
The Scarisbrick Mausoleum
A British Lawnmower Museum Tour
100 Years of Southport Dramatic Club
Hesketh Park Conservatory
Christ Church 200th Anniversary exhibition

Volunteers have also kindly given their time to take up research roles, as well as acting as guides and tour leaders.

Heritage Open Days is a national festival exploring buildings and heritage through a mixture of places to visit in person and digital history to explore online.

Cllr Daren Viedman, Sefton Council’s Cabinet Member for Planning and Building Control, said: “Southport has an amazing history that took it from sand dunes to elegant seaside resort in just a few decades.

“Lord Street and its beautiful verandahs are a well-known feature and if you look up you can see just about every style of architecture above them.

“Heritage Open Days is a chance for everyone to explore local heritage and appreciate the wonderful architecture that surrounds us.

“Our Southport Townscape Heritage Project team has been working with local organisations to put the resort on the festival map with a range of events celebrating the town’s historic buildings and history.”

Details of all events can be found by visiting www.heritageopendays.org.uk and you can also download a Southport Heritage Open Days leaflet from www.visitsouthport.com.

To request a hard copy of the leaflet please visit The Atkinson Arts Centre, Lord Street, Southport.

 

Save a life this month, by becoming a Zero Hero and learning how to help prevent suicide

Man opening shirt - Superman-style to reveal a large zero on his undershirt.As Friday’s World Suicide Prevention Day approaches, Sefton Council is encouraging people to find out about The Zero Suicide Alliance.

The Zero Suicide Alliance is a made up of National Health Service trusts, businesses and individuals who are all committed to suicide prevention in the UK and beyond.

Free training

To achieve this, the Alliance is promoting a free suicide prevention training course for everyone. The short, online training teaches you how to spot the danger signs, and how to reach out and support someone in need.

After the training, you will be able to identify when someone is showing they have suicidal thoughts or behaviour. You will also be able to speak in a supportive manner and to encourage them to contact appropriate correct services or support.

You can access the courses at www.zerosuicidealliance.com/training

Expertise

The full course takes around 30 minutes, but there’s a shorter version that just takes a few minutes. It has been developed using expertise from clinicians at Mersey Care NHS Foundation Trust and a leading e-learning training provider.

People in Sefton can also find out about mental health support available, on Sefton Council’s website at www.sefton.gov.uk/healthandwellbeing .

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