Cabinet: reporting back
Today was the last day to register to vote or to apply for a postal vote. It’s always manic for us political junkies at this time of year but it’s also a really good way to speak with voters across a diverse range of communities. I’ll be doing a lot more of that over the next few weeks and I continue to talk to staff across the organisation about their issues.
Anyway, tonight’s Cabinet meeting was the last before the council elections on May 5th. It was a pretty full house. We had a potentially big cash-saving update on the review of our 50 biggest contracts to see how we can squeeze more savings out of them (Item 5, contracts review).
We had reports back on our Child Poverty Strategy (item 15) and our Anti Social Behaviour Commission (item 16) – both really important issues in many of our communities. Recognising the value of lifelong, we maintained all the adult learning that was free last year to be free this year (Item 18).
We also agreed clearance of derelict properties (thanks, mostly to the pressure Cllr. Karen Hayes has been putting on me!) as reported in Item 22 while to tackle the problem of people of all ages who cannot get the work and training they need, we will be introducing a great new opportunity, similar to the model we used for the Apprenticeship Programme:
It is proposed to provide an employment opportunity for up to 52 weeks with a
local small or medium sized employer for 100 Wirral residents who are
workless; with a particular focus on those furthest from the labour market.
Participants will be paid at national minimum wage for 35 hours per week with
the council reimbursing the employer with the salary costs, including the
employer National Insurance contributions, for the first 26 weeks. The
employer will be asked to fund a further 26 weeks of the programme.
Employers will be required to demonstrate that ILM placements are additional
and are not replacing existing jobs. A mandatory training element will be
incorporated to improve participants’ employability by providing not only a
bridge back into the world of work, but also by improving skills levels through
Later in the meeting, Item 26, we agreed to merge the two business advice services we run. At the moment, there is one for start ups and one for existing businesses. The Task Force during Wirral’s Future recommended having a single service. The New Enterprise Allowance scheme is a major opportunity for people to start their own business and I expect this to fit neatly with the new, single advice service we are setting up.
We also agreed to invest in our coastal towns (New Brighton, Hoylake and West Kirby) following well-attended meetings of residents, community groups and businesses. During this discussion, both the Interim Director of Corporate Resources and the Chief Executive Designate confirmed that the money we have already committed to Liscard, not least for empty shops, is still in place, confounding what a certain councillor is saying…