Dundee City Council Meetings 8 November 2010

The latest meeting of the City Council and its committees took place on Monday evening. The Leisure, Arts and Communities Committee contained a number of interesting reports. I was particularly interested in the report on repairing headstones.

I understand why many headstones have warning markers affixed to them but it is clear that in many cases the ownership is unknown or so distant that nothing will come of it. Headstones are an important record of the history of the city, we should do all we can to preserve these historic records.

The Policy and Resources Committee considered a report about bringing the plans for a new Olympia to fruition. This is the Administration delivering a Labour manifesto commitment.

I welcome this progress on this building. It will be good deliver a modern facility for the people of Dundee. I also hope that this facility will attract people into the city from further afield and that families will visit Dundee to see exhibitions at the V & A and then go for a swim in the New Olympia.

I had a couple of questions have we done everything in our power to ensure that Dundee workers and Dundee businesses are used. This will be a major boost for the construction industry I hope that boost is felt in the Dundee economy. Also have we allowed enough in the budget to deal with all possible contingencies.

Also in Policy and Resources Committee, I was pleased to support my colleague Laurie Bidwell in his motion against changes, which are in effect a cut in Working Families Tax Credit.

Call for Effects of Changes to Tax Credits on Council Staff to be Investigated

In George Osborne's Budget in June and his comprehensive Spending Review in October there were a cluster of changes announced in the qualifying conditions to Tax Credits. Tax Credits are paid by the government through the payroll, to workers on low incomes. Changes to the regulations look likely to disqualify some existing staff members from their current entitlement to tax credits. That is why Labour Councillors Laurie Bidwell and Richard McCready have placed this on the agenda of the City Council's Policy and Resources Committee on Monday evening. They will be bringing forward a motion to get the Council to assess the position of staff who may be affected in these changes.

Councillor Laurie Bidwell said:

"A significant number of Council staff job share or undertake part time work. Taken together, all these changes to Tax Credits may make a significant difference to many of our staff; especially if they lose entitlement to Tax Credits and through this help towards child care costs. While some of these changes are more than a year ahead, it is not too soon for the Council to investigate the likely impact of these changes on its own staff and assess what might be done to help staff retain their entitlement to Tax Credits. I think this is the least that the Council can do as a major and responsible employer. Maximising the income of staff from wages and benefits is not only good for our staff and their families but also good for the economy of the city."

Councillor Richard McCready said,
"The Council has a duty to ensure that employees are rewarded for their efforts and that parents are able to work to support their families. I am very concerned about the accumulative effect of these changes to tax credits.'