DEVON COUNTY COUNCIL has given notice that the between Holbeton to Gibb Cottages will be closed between Monday the 25th March to Wednesday 27th of March.
Full details can be found here.
If your electricity supplier told you they were going to replace your meter with a new one that contained the technology to directly communicate your meter reading, so that the meter no longer had to be physically read, you probably wouldn’t give it a second thought. So, what’s all the fuss about Smart Meters?
The ‘big picture’ is that Government wants to drive the more efficient use of energy and, if electricity and gas suppliers have real-time measures of how much is being consumed, generation, extraction and importation can be managed more effectively. By ensuring that every home and small business have the new meters by 2020; adding a display that enables the consumer to see how much energy they are using and therefore take steps to reduce their usage, then everything is wonderful.
The first version of a smart meter would only work to the provider who supplied it and could not be ‘switched’, as we are all encouraged to do.
A mobile phone signal is needed – not good in parts of Devon, or through granite and cob walls.
Not compatible with domestic green sources of power.
Minor glitches not managed well and exaggerated in the press.
Some consumers were led into endangering their welfare, by cutting use in response to the display unit readings.
We are creatures of habit and the expected savings, that would have offset the cost of the programme, have not been realised.
Not all suppliers were geared up to install meters. Some will install “on-demand”, whilst with others, you will have to wait until they are ready.
Some small suppliers have gone out of business, having installed meters.
The roll-out is running a long way behind schedule and over cost.
The National Audit Office is not impressed.
A brighter future?
The second generation meters are now being installed and these go through an intermediary that can facilitate changes of a supplier.
“Other issues are being addressed.”
With real-time metering there is no need for estimated bills and payment plans can be set more accurately.
If you have a second generation meter, switching suppliers can be accommodated.
If you struggle to read a meter, then they are a good idea.
You might change your habits and save some money.
There isn’t a charge (but we all pay in the end).
You don’t have to have an in-home display unit.
The installation process is usually quick and efficient.
They’re fun if you are a ‘techy’ person.
The government have backed-off of compulsory installation, but our view is that in the end the government and the industry will get it somewhere near right, systems will improve and really there is nothing to fear. In fact, if estimated bills or reading a meter is a problem for you, then it’s worth a call to your supplier to see if you can get a second generation meter; otherwise, wait until your supplier gets in touch.
Some quick tips on ‘Switching’.
If you really don’t want to leave your present supplier, then at least make sure you are on their best available tariff.
If you use a comparison web site, make sure that you select the all-providers option otherwise, you will be directed to companies that they have a financial relationship with.
Beware of exit fees on fixed term agreements and more particularly, check what tariff you are being offered when the period ends.
Using an agent to manage your switching is paying someone to do something you can easily do yourself.
There are a number of charitable organisations that will help you compare and switch if you need help.
If there is a significant change in your levels of use e.g. more or fewer people in the house, installation of a green energy source, change of heating system etc., then it’s wise to monitor your use for a while and then use the data to compare again.
A number of providers have gone out of business; don’t worry – the ‘safety-net’ arrangements work and don’t cause too much inconvenience.
Community Projects Advisor
Councils agree to support the creation of a local bank to support the local economy
Both South Hams District and West Devon Borough Councillors have pledged their support for the creation of a local financial institution, a local bank for local people.
The new venture, which is yet to be named, would be the first ever high street bank dedicated to Cornwall, Devon, Somerset and Dorset (Subject to regulatory approvals).
The bank, known for now as South West Mutual, would be owned by its members and would pursue only what is in the customers’ best interests. Unlike national financial institutions, the Mutual would not engage in financial speculation, or pay huge bonuses to staff for selling financial products.
Cllr John Tucker, Leader of South Hams District Council, explains why the Council is supporting this initiative: “I am really interested by this proposal and the benefits it could offer our communities. We all know that the local branches are being lost at an astonishing rate, making it more difficult for older and more vulnerable people and trading businesses to access their finance or seek support. The South Hams has lost 13 bank branches since 2015, leaving major towns such as Dartmouth without any banks at all. We understand that banks have to move with the times and more business is done online, but who will support our high streets and market towns in the future?”
“We also know that our SME businesses can find it difficult to get funding. This proposal would see a new kind of banking institution, one that is not tied to the costly overheads of the National banks, who can use the latest technology because it is starting from scratch. We welcome the commitment of South West Mutual to be a permanent presence in the region and to serve our residents and businesses by building a branch network.”
Cllr Philip Sanders, Leader of West Devon Borough Council said: “Councils do not want to get into the business of banking but it is our business to support a thriving economy in West Devon.
We recognise that South West Mutual’s mission to serve our residents and smaller businesses and its commitment to financial inclusion are closely aligned with West Devon Borough Council’s own objectives and strategy and so we are delighted to be able to support them in the early stages of their application for a banking licence.”
Both Councils agree that this is one way that they can use some of the money generated from the Business Rates pilot to support the local economy without using money that has come from Council Tax Payers.
Each council will invest £50,000 to help support the formation of the new entity. The proposal is not without risk, but without the funding, the proposed benefits to the local economy may never be realised.
South Hams and West Devon are the two first local authorities in the area to pledge their support, leading the way for others who have also expressed an interest in this venture. More information can be found at: https://southwestmutual.co.uk/
It’s Safe to Talk – Suicide Intervention Briefings for Workers in South and West Devon
The first in a series of Suicide Intervention Briefings has been held at South Hams District Council.
The briefings are part of an initiative from the Community Safety Partnership (CSP), which includes South Hams and Teignbridge District Councils and West Devon Borough Councils, and are being held in conjunction with Public Health Devon and Action to Prevent Suicide.
Suicide is a global issue, and takes someone’s life every 40 seconds. In the UK it’s the biggest killer of young people and men under 50, and it’s estimated that two-thirds of people who take their own life do not approach their GP or health professional.
The Community Safety Partnership is working to reduce the number of suicides in their area, by helping people recognise and support those at risk.
To date over 300 people from a wide range of agencies have signed up to attend the briefings, where they will be given information on the realities of suicide and how simple conversations can made a huge difference in people’s lives. Those attending will receive information from organisations such as Samaritans, Devon Partnership Trust, Pete’s Dragons, Papyrus, Grass Roots.
Cllr Tom Holway, Chairman of South Hams District Council and its representative on the CSP, said: “It’s a sobering thought that the majority of deaths for men under the age of 50 is not disease or accident, but suicide. That means the majority of deaths are preventable. Many of our staff, from the contact centre to the housing advice team, come into contact with vulnerable people each day, and I hope that this training will give them the ability to recognise the signs of someone at risk of suicide, and intervene to prevent more tragic deaths.”
Cllr Robin Musgrave, CSP Representative for West Devon, said: “I’m very grateful to the CSP and Action to Prevent Suicide for delivering this training for our staff and others in the public sector. We share their vision for a world free from suicide, and we’re committed to helping reduce the stigma and raise awareness of this issue.”
Cllr Sylvia Russell, Teignbridge District Council’s executive portfolio holder for health and wellbeing, said: “The figures on suicide are staggering and saddening. I hope this training helps our staff, many of which deal with vulnerable people on a daily basis, identify and intervene where they see someone in crisis.”
Two sessions were held at South Hams District Council on Tuesday 27 November, with a further two sessions planned at West Devon Borough Council on Thursday 29 November. The Teignbridge sessions will be held on Friday 7 December and Thursday 17 January at their offices in Newton Abbot.
For more information about Action to Prevent Suicide, including training courses offered by them, please visit https://actiontopreventsuicide.org
Have your say on possible changes to SHDC Council Tax discount scheme!
Every year local councils have to take a look at their existing Council Tax Reduction scheme and make a decision whether to replace or revise it. Council Tax Reduction Schemes enables residents to apply for a discount on their Council Tax.
This year South Hams District Council is proposing a number of changes and have put together a list of options which they would like customers to comment on.
Cllr Hilary Bastone South Hams Executive Member for Customer First said: “This year we are proposing a number of changes. This is because we have now brought in Universal Credit across the whole District and our Council Tax Reduction scheme needs to change to reflect how Universal Credit works. We also want to make it easier and clearer for customers to understand the process and keep on top of any changes in their own circumstances.”
One of the proposed changes is the introduction of a simple grid with benefit bands, which will replace the current complex benefit assessment, making it easier for customers to see and manage their discount.
This proposed change and 10 others, including limiting the number of dependent children considered on a claim, and disregarding carer’s allowance which is currently taken into account when the discount is calculated, can be viewed on the Council’s engagement portal. All customers are encouraged to read the information and fill in a short survey with their thoughts.
Cllr Bastone continued: “When you make changes to any benefit scheme, there will inevitably be some people who gain more and others who get a little less. We are keen that these changes should reflect the changes across our whole benefit system and bring this scheme inline, to make it clearer easier and fairer for everyone. On the survey, and the engagement portal, we have clearly explained the benefits and drawback of all the proposals to make it easier for people to add their comments and reach an informed opinion.”
In April 2013, the Council Tax Benefit Scheme was replaced by a new Council Tax Reduction Scheme. Council Tax Benefit had been funded by the Department for Work and Pensions and supported people on low incomes by reducing the amount of Council Tax they must pay.
The Council Tax Reduction scheme is determined locally by District Councils rather than the Department of Work and Pensions. Although the Government initially provided funding for the scheme, the funding has reduced each year in line with the reduction in Revenue Support Grant provided to councils. From 2019 no funding will be provided for the scheme.
People can claim Council Tax Reduction if they are on certain benefits. The current scheme requires all working age applicants to pay a minimum of 20% of their Council Tax (a maximum level of support of 80%). Applicants in receipt of income based Jobseekers Allowance, Income Support and Income Rated Employment and Support Allowance receive the maximum level of support. Others receive a level of Council Tax Reduction based on their income and other factors.
This fund is a pilot for NEW Devon CCG area. Do you have a good idea and want to support people in your community? Need help in getting a small amount of funding? Then Devon Community Grants may be able to help.
DCG provide small grants – up to £300 and you don’t need to be a group to apply –you can be an individual with a good idea for your community.
There are two closing dates for applications:
- Friday 23rd November 2018
- Thursday 31st January 2019
More information can be found here – Devon Grants Fund – overview and application form 19.9.18
If you have any questions, or suggestions, about the Community Grants Fund please contact:
firstname.lastname@example.org 01626 326130
Devon County Council have issued a notice that Church Hill will be closed to traffic between the 9th Oct and 12th Oct for resurfacing work. The full notice can be viewed here – Traffic Notice – Church Hill – Oct 18