OPINION: Help for those impacted by Universal Credit cut - David Worden

North Devon Gazette

Thousands of families in Northern Devon have recently been hit with the loss of £20 a week as the Government ended the uplift in Universal Credit.Â

For many homes this is a real challenge but the setting up of a Household Support Fund will give emergency help. Money has been allocated from the Department of Work and Pensions to each upper tier local authority in England, which in our case is the County Council.Â

NDC is working with Team Devon (Devon County Council and the other Devon District Councils) in relation to this fund which will assist households facing financial hardship this winter. For this purpose, North Devon Council has been allocated a total of £128,000.Â

The fund is for emergency short term support for households struggling this winter to make ends meet. It is intended to help them to cover the cost of food, increased energy and water bills and/or any related essential costs.Â

Each application will be assessed on its own merits with the scheme running up to March 2022 but there are restrictions on its use. For example, mortgage and rent arrears are in the main excluded, and the fund cannot be used to support financially unsustainable tenancies.Â

Please do contact the council if you are struggling and need short term help as our customer service teams are there to assist.Â

On another issue, people have said to me that it is time to stop new housing developments taking place in North Devon because we haven’t got the infrastructure to cope. The situation is complex as we need more homes for local people, key workers and those who wish to live here but at the same time additional development means that we require more school places, health facilities, adequate roads and leisure facilities.Â

What many readers may not realize is that as part of the planning process developers have to make a contribution through S106 agreements to provide additional amenities and facilities. For example, the County Council receives large sums of money to ensure that there are adequate school places and highway improvements.Â

On larger developments this figure can be in excess of £1,000,000. There may also be health and public transport contributions.Â

The District Council is also very keen that new developments include affordable houses and in addition is in receipt of funds for public open space and recreation projects. At the last Strategy and Resources committee members allocated some S106 money to various parts of North Devon.Â

So, it is good news for Barnstaple, Chulmleigh and Horwood, Lovacott and Newton Tracey. £1,015 will support the enhancement of the fountain located on the Square in Barnstaple and an additional £8,428 will now go towards a new play area which is being delivered as part of the Tarka Leisure Centre project at Windy Ridge, Sticklepath. The total project cost is £56,475 but the remaining money had already been secured. Â

Chulmleigh Playing Field Association will receive £80,000 towards the cost of a new pavilion extension. The Playing Field is currently being used by 28 different organisations. The project involves replacing an old portacabin structure with a new timber frame building.Â

This will form a second hall, youth club area and toilets to serve the playing field activities. £38,000 has also been allocated to Chulmleigh Parish Council for the improvement of Davy Park. The Parish Council intend to provide a new ‘Learn and Play’ area to cater for the under sixes.Â

Newton Tracey Cricket Club are set to receive funding of £6,096 for a new practice bay to replace the one of the current bays which is no longer fit for purpose. Horwood, Lovacott and Newton Tracey Parish Council will also receive £6,096 enabling the purchase of a wooden gazebo at Lovacott playing field. This will provide comfortable sheltered environment for the community and will be used by the primary school as part of their forest school learning programme.Â