Local Council Tax Support scheme consultation

Written on . Posted in Benefits, Community, Consultation, Council tax, Grants, Housing, Media, Private housing, Residents, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

We need your views on our Local Council Tax Support scheme – a scheme designed to help people in financial need to pay their Council Tax.

People of pension age have been protected by the Government and they have their own scheme for Local Council Tax Support. For people of working age, the council has had to design a scheme for them that is less generous than the scheme for pensioners because of a reduced grant from the Government.

It is important that we get views from anyone connected with the district because there is a balance between how to fund any money paid out against implementing a scheme that leaves an amount of council tax that is affordable and can be collected.

The results of the consultation will be presented to councillors who will decide whether to make any changes to the scheme for 2015/2016.

Our consultation will close on the 19 October 2014.

Find out more

Find out more about the Local Council Tax Support scheme consultation.

 

£145,479 boost for disability sport

Written on . Posted in Community, Grants, Health, Media, Older people, Our activities, Out and about, Residents, Sports, Sports centres and pools, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council

People with a disability in Epping Forest will have more opportunities to get involved in sport after Epping Forest District Council received £145,479 of funding from Sport England’s Inclusive Sport fund.

The project is one of 44 across England that will benefit from £8.06 million of National Lottery investment from Sport England to open up more opportunities for people with disabilities to play sport.

The Epping Forest Project called ‘Six for All’ will work with local sports clubs to assist them in developing specialised disability sections, so that people with disabilities of all ages can take part in sport, both as participants and coaches. The project will create participation, voluntary and paid coaching opportunities for people with disabilities so that they can benefit from continued sports participation throughout their lives.

Delighted to be receiving funding

Sports and Health Development Manager James Warwick said: “We are absolutely delighted to be receiving funding from the Sport England’s Inclusive Sport Fund. It means a great deal in terms of increasing participation for disabled people in Epping Forest as it provides invaluable funding to help us extend the opportunities for disabled children, young people and adults in the local area to get involved in sport.”

Sport England Director of Insight, Lisa O’Keefe said: “We are delighted to be able to help Epping Forest District Council provide more opportunities for disabled people to give sport a go. Record numbers of disabled people now play sport and it’s thanks to clubs like this that we can continue to improve opportunities and make a real difference in communities.”

Active People Survey

The number of disabled people playing sport regularly is on the rise. In December 2013, Sport England’s Active People Survey – an annual, in-depth measure of the nation’s sporting habits – revealed that a record number of disabled people in England now play sport each week. However, non-disabled people are still twice as likely to play sport as disabled people (39.2 per cent compared to 18.5 per cent) which is why Sport England continues to focus attention and investment to address this imbalance.

Sport England’s Inclusive Sport Fund supports programmes that aim to increase the number of disabled people playing sport. Since the fund launched, £17.1 million has been invested in 88 projects that make sport a viable lifestyle choice for disabled people.

As well as funding disability sport programmes, Sport England also funds equipment. In addition to the £8.06 million announcement, Sport England also recently awarded £1 million to 141 clubs across England to help them buy equipment to open up sport to disabled people.

 

Cabinet agrees council tax freeze

Written on . Posted in Business, Business rates, Councillors, Democracy, Energy efficiency, Grants, Housing, Leader, Licensing, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Media, Meetings, Parking, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

Members of the cabinet agreed to freeze Epping Forest District Councils part of the council tax at a meeting of cabinet on Monday 3 February 2014.

Subject to approval at the meeting of full council in February, Leader of Council Councillor Chris Whitbread said: “We have achieved our aspirations again to be a low council tax authority, another 0% council tax increase from Epping Forest District Council.”

Click on the agenda items below to watch the debate

 

CAB gives advice to council

Written on . Posted in Business, Community, Councillors, Grants, Local business, Media, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community

Funding and accommodation dominated a presentation by Epping Forest Citizens Advice Bureau to district councillors on Tuesday 15 October.

Janet Wood assisted CAB District Manager Stephanie Chambers set out the challenges facing the CAB at Overview and Scrutiny. Epping Forest District Council funds the local CAB annually with a grant of £113,840, as well as paying the salaries of 3 specialist Welfare Reform Mitigation officers for the Bureau, making the total district council contribution almost £160,000. The district council makes by far the largest financial contribution to the local volunteer advice services.

Other contributions are made by Essex County Council, private donations, government schemes and charitable gifts by high street names such as Lloyds TSB. Epping, Loughton and Waltham Abbey Town Councils also make significant contributions.

Epping Forest CAB facts for 2012/2013

  • helped 3,397 clients
  • 14,096 different issues
  • Benefits and debt are the biggest sources of enquiries and advice

 

 

Epping Forest CAB is going through a period of transition. While its old offices at Hemnall Street in Epping are being rebuilt by the Theydon Trust it has been given temporary accommodation at the Epping Forest ReUse Centre in Bower Hill. Once completed, the new Epping Offices, built in consultation with the CAB should provide better accommodation but at an increased rent.

The Loughton-based CAB office at the Ignite Centre in St Mary’s Church is also facing closure due to the poor state of the building. Ultimately, the CAB is considering centring its operations on Epping and its remaining office at Waltham Abbey Town Hall with outreach services to Loughton, Limes Farm in Chigwell and other parts of the district.

Unpaid volunteers make up most of the local CAB advisory workforce but they are backed up by a team of 9 paid part-time staff and the 3 Welfare Mitigation Advisers funded by the district council. CAB managers are currently consulting with staff on the restructure.

 

Museum wins Heritage Lottery Fund support

Written on . Posted in Arts, Business, Chairman, Conservation and listed buildings, Councillors, Grants, Local business, Media, Museum, Our activities, Our attractions, Out and about, Residents, Supporting business, Waltham Abbey, Your area, Your community, Your council

Epping Forest District Museum in Waltham Abbey has secured a £1.65 million Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant for a major development project, ‘The Museum at the Core’. The scheme, which will total £2.5 million, will extend and develop the museum on its existing site, making both the building and the collections more accessible to all.

The project brings together the majority of the museum’s collections on one site, together with the creation of a community/education room, a new temporary exhibition gallery and an ‘Explore’ gallery providing access to the reserve collections. The additional space above the library in 37 Sun Street will create a wonderful cultural centre for local people and visitors in the heart of Waltham Abbey.

Tip – to view all the photos in a slideshow, click on a picture then click start slideshow (in the bottom right of the frame).

Developed jointly by the museum team with design company Outside Studios and architects Hawkins\ Brown, the project will see the existing museum buildings remodelled, the installation of a lift to provide step-free access throughout the entire building and improved visitor facilities. The oldest part of the museum, an historic Grade II* listed Tudor timber framed house dating to 1520, will be interpreted and displayed as a significant historical structure in its own right. The existing permanent exhibition galleries will be redisplayed, with a new selection of themes and objects.

Securing the additional space in 37 Sun Street over the Waltham Abbey library has been made possible by a capital funding commitment of £250,000 by Epping Forest District Council. The acquisition of the space has been assisted by Howard Green, of the property management agency Duncan Phillips Ltd, who acting on behalf of the vendors, made the original approach to the museum.

For the museum team this is the culmination of 3 years of work behind the scenes developing the scheme’s proposals, which have won wide backing from councillors, community groups, professional bodies and funding organisations as well as our existing audiences.

Councillor Brian Rolfe, Chairman of Epping Forest District Council said: “This grant award is a fantastic reflection on how our Museum Service is recognised by major funders such as the Heritage Lottery Fund. Our users have been telling us how much they value the services we offer but would love for us to make the museum bigger. The fact that access to the upstairs galleries has only been by the central staircase has always been a real problem for our ability to provide a fully- accessible service and this scheme now allows us to deal with this in the most satisfying manner.”

The museum also runs a popular programme of family activities and events but has long been hampered by the lack of a designated room in which these can take place leading to events having to be held in gallery areas and weather permitting in the museum garden. The creation of a new room will allow this programme to develop and support the work the museum undertakes with schools and other educational and community groups allowing the museum to become even more of a community facility.

‘The Museum at the Core’ project is also designed to increase opportunities for volunteer involvement in the running of the museum. The HLF funding will allow for two new posts focused on audience development and supporting volunteer engagement, to be created and the acquisition of a new collections management system, which will enable the museum to make more information about the collections available to the public on line and through gallery terminals.

Robyn Llewellyn, Head of the Heritage Lottery Fund in the East of England said: “We are delighted to award this grant to Epping Forest District Museum, which will allow for a enhanced visitor experience for everyone. With full access to the museum’s collections and a new community learning space the museum’s track record of excellent exhibitions and events will only get better. We look forward to the completed project.”

It is also anticipated that the larger museum will act as a significant tourism attraction in the heart of Waltham Abbey along with the range of other attractions in and around the town.

Proposals are for the museum to close in the autumn of 2013 to allow for clearance of the current displays and the main building works with the new museum re-opening to the public for Easter 2015.

During the closed period the museum will continue to provide services through other buildings in the district and through the Lowewood Museum in Hoddesdon, which has been operated by the Epping Forest District Museum team since February 2012.

Is your club up to date on tax laws?

Written on . Posted in Business, Business rates, Commercial properties, Community, Grants, Local business, Our activities, Out and about, Regulations, Residents, Sports, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your money

 

With all the talk in the media of obesity in adults and the push for an Olympic legacy this is a golden time for sports in our country as we drive to get more people active.

Wheelchair basketball - image supplied courtesy of Sport England www.sportengland.org

Clubs and organisations also need to offer a professional service that is business like and can cope with the ever changing financial climate. However, this can be difficult as we often run clubs as volunteers through our passion for our chosen sport or because we wish to give something back to the community we live in. This means that we often have no formal training in the ‘off the pitch stuff’ that can make or break even the most successful club (finance, marketing, book-keeping).

Unfortunately for some clubs a lack of expertise in this vital part of club management has been a costly wake up call and there have been reports of clubs receiving fines of up to £100,000 in unpaid taxes and penalties. Additionally, it may not be widely known that if your club is formed by a committee and not limited by a guarantee, the committee members can end up being personally liable for any tax debt the club incurs. 

So, with all this in mind, Epping Forest District Council in partnership with GB Sport will be running two interactive training courses to help clubs understand the tax environment and correct their procedures to fall in line with HMRC guidance (none costing more than £20). There is also an additional course on marketing to help clubs take advantage of the growing social media sector to develop their presence in the local community.

Business essentials for clubs

On 23 May at North Weald Golf Club from 6.30pm to 9.30pm. The course will cover

  • Legal status – detailing the definitions and requirements for the various ways coaches/workers can be paid
  • Self employment – outline the strict HMRC self employment guidelines, that if not satisfied can result in a hefty tax bill
  • Employment – review of the various types of employment for those involved in sport
  • Contracts –  sample contracts for self employment will be given and ideal working arrangements for coaches and clubs will be discussed
  • Insurance – we review insurance options to minimise risks to both clubs and coaches

Book-keeping essentials

 On 20 June at North Weald Golf Club from 6.30pm to 9.30pm. The course will cover

  • Book-keeping – How best to meet the HMRC requirements to ensure you are prepared for a tax inspection
  • Allowable expenses – the types of expenses that can/can’t be claimed by clubs and coaches
  • Invoicing and debt management – What to include in an invoice, how to avoid bad debt and options for debt recovery
  • V.A.T –  The rules and regulations for a sports coaching business, linked to turnover, legal status. A review of the VAT issues for non profit-making organisations such as clubs and associations, particularly focusing on what is and isn’t exempt from VAT

Marketing essentials

On 13 June at North Weald Golf Club from 6.30pm to 9.30pm. The course will cover

  • Branding – how to build and develop your club’s/organisation’s brand
  • Planning – how to put together a business and marketing plan
  • First impressions – why they count and how your organisation can make a good one
  • Social media – how to use facebook and twitter to improve your organisation’s profile and increase profit
  • Good practice – case studies of what other clubs have done and how it has helped them

The address for North Weald Golf Club is Rayley Lane, North Weald, Essex CM16 6AR.

If you would like more information on any of these workshops or would like to book a place on any of them, please contact Fabrizio on 01992 564567 or email fferrari@eppingforestdc.gov.uk.

Prison scheme scrutinised

Written on . Posted in Community, Councillors, Crime and safety, Grants, Media, Meetings, Out and about, Residents, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your home

A scheme designed to keep young people out of prison featured at the beginning of Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Tuesday 9 April 2013.

Councillors watched a council-produced video featuring the event at Roding Valley High School.

Enthusiastic Year 10 Roding Valley pupils are said to have found the event incredibly powerful. Serving prison officers, police officers, the Safer Places charity and prisoners all gave their time and energy voluntarily.

This was the first event of its type in Essex. Staff from schools around the district attended Roding Valley to see the potential benefits. Councillors were keen to see the project expand and continue. Safer Communities Co-ordinator Caroline Wiggins reported on the low cost of the event at approximately £2,500. She indicated there was a good chance of further funding for other schools via the office of the Police and Crime Commissioner for Essex, Nick Alston. Each school would be asked to make a contribution of about £500 to the costs.

Councillors speculated that should the project prevent one pupil falling into a life of crime and prison, the project would have paid for itself.

Watch the Overview and Scrutiny Committee webcast

Financial assistance to help you improve your home

Written on . Posted in Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Business, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Epping, Grants, Housing, Housing repairs, Loughton, Older people, Ongar, Planning, Private housing, Residents, Waltham Abbey, Your community, Your home, Your money

Do you know that Epping Forest District Council offers financial assistance and grants to home owners and private tenants?

We may be able to assist if you need house repairs, energy efficiency works, or adaptations to your home because you are disabled. We also offer assistance to home owners wanting to bring an empty home back into use.

Financial assistance to help you improve your home

The types of financial assistance available include

  • disabled facilities grants up to £30,000
  • decent homes repayable assistance up to £10,000
  • small works repayable assistance up to £3,000
  • empty homes repayable assistance up to £10,000

Find out more

Full details of the eligibility criteria, and how you can apply, are available from the Private Sector Grants Team

  • email PSHGrantsandCare@eppingforestdc.gov.uk
  • phone 01992 564092
  • write to – Private Sector Grants Team, Housing Directorate, Epping Forest District Council, Civic Offices, High Street, Epping, Essex CM16 4BZ

Council Tax freeze agreed by cabinet

Written on . Posted in Business, Business rates, Community, Council tax, Councillors, Democracy, Grants, Housing, Local business, Meetings, North Weald Airfield, Out and about, Planning, Private housing, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment, Your home, Your money

Council Tax freeze, new homes and disabled toilets were on the agenda when Epping Forest District Council’s cabinet met on Monday 4 February 2013.

Watch the webcast

Council Tax Frozen

There will be no increase in the Council Tax precept set by Epping Forest District Council if the recommendations of the cabinet are accepted by all councillors when the budgets are set later in February. The annual charge for a Band D property will remain the same for the third year in succession at £148.77.

Cabinet agreed the recommendations to full council despite further decreases in Government grant thanks in part to a number of savings reducing the next financial year’s ongoing revenue budget target to £14.37 million.

Councillor Syd Stavrou Finance Portfolio Holder emphasised Epping Forest District was and would remain a ‘low-tax’ council for the long term.

Councillor Chris Whitbread, Leader of the Council described the report as a ‘good news budget’ with £800,000 of savings coming mostly from ‘back offices’, no enforced redundancies, and fees and charges such as car park pay and display prices kept down. He acknowledged challenges ahead but remained upbeat about the council’s prospects.

After the meeting, Councillor Stavrou said: “At the current time with money so tight, it has never been so important to support local business and keep costs down for hard working local residents. Each member of the cabinet has played an important part in examining all service costs to reduce spending wherever possible while continuing to protect local services. Working with staff, we have found many new and better ways to deliver services without cutting quality and I would like to thank everyone who has contributed to the process.”

Obsolete bedsits to be converted to new homes

Marden Close, a scheme of 20 bedsit flats developed for older residents in the 1960s is to be converted into 10 modern one-bedroom flats. The vacant buildings had previously proved very unpopular and difficult to let. Cabinet favoured retaining Marden Close rather than pursuing earlier options to transfer it to a social housing landlord. Proposals also found favour with cabinet for the lease of Faversham Hall to Chigwell Parish Council. East Thames Housing Group will project manage the conversions. Works could start on site within 6 months.

Councillors welcomed the scheme which will create much needed accommodation for people on the housing waiting list.

North Weald consultants appointed

Drivers Jonas Deloitte has been appointed to take forward the review of North Weald Airfield. The £145,000 brief is expected to make recommendations for consideration by councillors for the future of the airfield.

Council to fund CAB debt advisors

Cabinet agreed £67,000 to Epping Forest Citizens’ Advice Bureau for the appointment of 2 full-time debt advisors. The funding will cover 2 18 month contracts to begin in April. The agreement includes a commitment from the CAB to support residents through the Limes Centre in Chigwell. This funding is additional money to support homelessness prevention over and above the council’s regular CAB funding of more than £100,000 a year.

Better disabled toilet facilities for Epping and Buckhurst Hill

The accessible superloo currently provided in Bakers Lane Epping is set to be relocated to Buckhurst Hill once a major refurbishment of the Bakers Lane public toilet block has been completed. Cabinet approved additional expenditure of £85,000 for Bakers Lane and £21,000 towards relocating the superloo. The improvements are expected to be especially welcomed by people with disabilities who will find accessibility much improved through the initiative.

One Business Briefing – brimming with news for local businesses

Written on . Posted in Abandoned vehicles, Animal welfare, Buckhurst Hill, Building control, Business, Business rates, Chigwell, Commercial properties, Community, Conservation and listed buildings, Doing business with the council, Drainage, Energy efficiency, Epping, Grants, Gypsy and traveller, Local business, Local plan / planning our future, Loughton, Media, Older people, Olympics, Ongar, Planning, Regulations, Residents, Supporting business, Travel, Trees and landscapes, Uncategorized, Waltham Abbey, Working with the council, Young people, Your area, Your community, Your council, Your environment

The January 2013 edition of ‘One Business Briefing’ is now available.

In this edition Reed in Partnership gives local businesses advice on how they can use Government funding to get staff job relevant qualifications at no cost to the employer or employee. It also introduces MP Eleanor Laing’s new Business Forum, reports on current tourism development work, including a key event on 31 January 2013 to develop tourism within the area and much more.

Read the January 2013 edition – One Business Briefing

Produced by Epping Forest District Council, One Epping Forest and local partners the briefing provides information for businesses and those looking to start up in business in the Epping Forest district. The briefing is designed to report on business funding opportunities / access to finance, business support, workshops / events for business, town centre news and other local economic development initiatives.

If you would like to receive future editions of ‘One Business Briefing’ by email please email economicdevelopment@eppingforestdc.gov.uk.