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Priorities protected as Renfrewshire faces ‘tough budget challenge’

Education, jobs and economic regeneration, and services for children and vulnerable adults have been prioritised in what Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan has described as a ‘tough budget challenge’ faced by the council.

A meeting of Renfrewshire Council on Thursday February 14 agreed a £368.9million revenue budget and a £115m capital budget for 2013-15.

“It’s important people understand the funding difficulties Renfrewshire Council has consistently been faced with in recent years,” said Councillor Macmillan.

Renfrewshire_Council_ezg_1“Those are having a damaging impact on the council’s ability to deliver the services our citizens and our communities need and deserve.

“Renfrewshire has been on the grant floor of Scottish Government funding every year since 2009 – the only mainland local authority to be treated in that way.

“Renfrewshire is one of a group of just eight out of 32 Scottish councils which had cash cut in government funding for 2013-14 – in our case, £2m.

“The Scottish Government’s funding per head of population in Renfrewshire for 2013-14 is £1959.60 – less than we received in 2008, and over £43 less per person than the average funding to Scottish councils in the year ahead.

“Yet there is widespread recognition that Renfrewshire’s population is in need of more support than other areas due to worse than average life expectancy, income deprivation, and youth unemployment.

“Renfrewshire has had to meet a £16m funding gap over two years.

“The council also has to address the impact of £22million being taken out of the Renfrewshire economy by the forthcoming UK Government welfare and benefit changes.

“We are putting in place a  wide-ranging programme  to support the thousands of Renfrewshire residents, including establishing a 45-strong team who will provide support on benefit, welfare and debt issues.

“The combined impact of all these challenges means that the council has had to make some very difficult decisions.”

Over the next two years, Renfrewshire Council will lose 250 jobs though there will be no compulsory redundancies, and the total job losses are significantly less than the 1200 jobs shed over the last three years.

There will be some changes in the education budget but all the savings will be reinvested in education.

All children in P1-3 who are entitled to a free school meal will now also be eligible for a free meal during the school holidays.  This will replace the provision of free school meals to P1-P3 pupils in a minority of local schools who currently receive a free school meal although they aren’t eligible under the national guidelines.

“The targeting of free school meals to those families who need it most and the protection of the education budget as a whole reflect key themes of this council’s approach.

“There have had to be tough decisions. However, with the resources available to us, the council has prioritised the services that matter most to the people of Renfrewshire

“Just as the council reintroduced free school transport, and is now increasing concessions for sporting participation for young people, we are doing all we can to increase opportunities for those who need our help the most.

“We are prioritising jobs and the economy, education, and the care of the young and the elderly.

“There are massive social and economic challenges ahead for Renfrewshire.  The council’s budget is putting in place innovative approaches and targeted investment to do all we can to support the community in these difficult times.

Key highlights of Renfrewshire Council’s spending programme include:

Jobs and the Economy

A further £4.5m will support employment and the local economy, including the Invest in Renfrewshire programme, and the development of a social enterprise strategy for the area.

The aim is to assist 1000 local businesses or a quarter of the companies in Renfrewshire.  To date over 130 new jobs have been created, 40 internships supported, and a related project, the Retail Improvement Scheme, is oversubscribed.

An extra £1.5m over the next two years two years will support town centre regeneration and investment in buildings and tourism and events.

Services to children and young people

£4.4m will be spent to improve services to children, young people and families, including the development of two pilot projects to support families with children of pre-five and primary school age.

A broader approach in children’s early years will help families in education, child care, health, financial advice and employment support.

Education

A further £30m supported by borrowing, will be invested in new and modernised primary school buildings. That will bring the council’s investment in new and upgraded schools, including a proposed new special school, to over £45m.

Services to vulnerable people

An extra £1.8m will be invested in the social work budget over the next two years.  This will help support a range of care provision for children, care for older people, and care packages for adults which support greater independence.

Promoting sport and healthy lifestyles

An additional £360,000 will promote participation in sport by halving the current charge for council-owned synthetic pitches. Young people aged under 18 taking part in sports activities in council-owned facilities will now get in for half price compared to the existing 30% discount.

An additional £5m investment in grass pitches and changing facilities will be made over two years.

Roads

An extra £4.3m capital investment will be spent on roads bringing the roads investment to £5.7m in 2013-14 – the largest-ever investment in roads from the council’s own resources.

Council tax 2013-14

The council tax charges for Renfrewshire will be frozen for 2013-14.

Band

A  £776.46  B  £905.87  C  £1035.28  D  £1164.69

E  £1423.51  F£1682.33  G  £1941.15  H  £2329.38

The bills issued to householders will also include a separate water and sewerage charge set by Scottish Water.

Info from www.renfrewshire.gov.uk

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Reading together is fun
Families taking part in a family learning project in Renfrewshire have said the sessions are proving to be a life-changing experience.

Families from Ferguslie, Moorpark/Renfrew West, and West Johnstone have taken part in a series of workshops and events in Cochrane Castle Primary School, St David’s Primary School, Glencoats’ Primary School and St Fergus’ Primary School.

Councillor Jacqueline Henry, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Education Policy Board said: “This project not only gives support to families in developing reading skills, but it improving their confidence in helping their own children.
Picture of reading group

“Parents are being encouraged to develop new skills to support their children’s learning and to have a positive outlook on learning.

“Everyone who is taking part in the project has shown real enthusiasm and a desire for learning. It was useful for senior officers to hear at first-hand about what the project meant for the families taking part.”

The project provides parents an opportunity to work with their children, around the use of language and the activities include reading, storytelling, arts and crafts, poetry, games and singing songs.

The families are also being encouraged to use the latest technology by using i-pads to download stories and activities that will help children to learn.

The project is supported by a range of services from Renfrewshire Council, the University of the West of Scotland and is funded by Education Scotland.

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Loretta Reid swings back in to town!

Sell out singing sensation, Loretta Reid will return to Paisley Arts Centre this spring with a new show incorporating ‘Jazz ‘n’ Swing with a little bit ‘o’ Zing!’. Playing on Friday 1 March, she will be joined by a new line up of tremendous Scottish musicians for what promises to be another fabulous show! 

loretta_4471Loretta has a natural ability to sing and through her influences and determination, has developed her voice to produce an individuality that is hers today. From the earliest age, music has been a major part of Loretta’s life, with her father’s love of jazz, big band sounds and particularly Frank Sinatra. Coming from such a musical family where a day without music would be strange to say the least, creativity is a large part of Loretta’s persona. 

Loretta’s performances are always extremely popular, and we would encourage audiences to book early to avoid disappointment.

Loretta Reid will be at Paisley Arts Centre on Friday 1 March at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £12 (£10 conc) and can be booked by calling our Box Office on 0141 887 1010 or visiting www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/onlinebooking

For further information on Loretta, future events and shows log on to www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/events or follow us on Facebookwww.facebook.com/renfrewshirearts.

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Renfrewshire Council offers owners home improvement help

Hundreds of private owners could be in line for help to upgrade their homes under Renfrewshire Council’s £138million, five-year plan to ensure its own properties meet the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS).

The SHQS is a government standard that all local authorities and housing associations must meet by 2015. It is designed to make sure all their homes are in good condition and meet minimum energy efficiency ratings.

Renfrewshire_Council_ezg_1Councillor Tommy Williams, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Housing and Community Safety Policy Board, said, “Our goal is to make sure every council tenant is living in a home that meets the SHQS by 2015. The financial help we are offering to private owners is vital to allow our improvement programme to go ahead without leaving out substantial numbers of council homes.

“A lot of council tenants bought their homes under the right to buy. Many of them live in blocks of flats, rows of terraced homes or four in a block closes side by side with council properties.

“Much of the work we’re doing can’t be completed unless it is also done to the adjoining private homes, especially in high rise blocks like Gallowhill Court. In a few cases the improvement work can be worth more than £10,000 and this is clearly beyond the means of some owners.

“The package of measures we’ve put in place will allow home owners to enjoy the benefits of our SHQS programme in an affordable way, without our tenants having to miss out because they live next door to an owner-occupier.

“This package is all the more important given the Scottish Government’s planned National Lending Unit has failed to materialise.”

The National Lending Unit was a government-backed scheme which was intended to give private owners access to affordable loans for home improvements through the SHQS programme.

By 2015 the council’s SHQS programme will have installed up to 8,000 new kitchens; fitted up to 7,500 new tile laser bathrooms, rewired up to 8,000 homes and upgraded up to 6,000 heating systems in council homes. The programme also includes major external work, such as enclosing high rise blocks with energy efficient cladding, and replacing gutters and drainpipes.

The package of measures available to owners includes:

* Flat rate grants to owners of 25% for non-resident owners, 35% for resident owners and 50% for resident owners who receive income support or similar benefits

* An extended period to pay invoices by instalments

* A 10% discount on the administration fee for early repayment up to a maximum of £150 if paid within one month

* Advice on getting grants to improve the energy efficiency of the property through the Energy Company Obligation (ECO) funding programme

* Signposting to banks or credit unions for loans or ways to tap into the value of the property such as equity release.

find out more www.renfrewshire.gov.uk

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Carers told to take a break by Renfrewshire Council

Carer’s in Renfrewshire are being told to take a break after the local authority set aside £200,000 to pay for a new home-based respite care service.

Respite care gives carers a break from the daily routine of looking after loved ones who have long-term health problems or disabilities. It allows them the chance to have a night out, a weekend off or a short holiday.

renfrewshire-carersAs the name suggests, the new home-based service allows the person who is being cared for to stay in their own home while their carer takes a well earned rest. The person who is being cared for needs to be over 65 to access the new service but the carer can be any age.

Respite care – away from the home – is available to all carers who look after someone who is either over 16 years old, or who is a disabled child, and needs regular help with their personal and social care. There may be a charge in some cases.

It’s estimated that there are over 20,000 carers in Renfrewshire.

Councillor Iain McMillan, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Social Work, Health and Wellbeing Policy Board, said, “Carers do an amazing job and our aim is to provide them with as much help and support as possible. Being a carer is a massive commitment and for many it’s more than a full time job.

“The council recognises someone has to care for the carers. The help and support we provide to people with physical and learning disabilities, has to extend to the people who look after them. This includes addressing the impact that being a carer has on their jobs, education, health and leisure time.

“We asked carers what we could do to help and the new respite care at home service is what they came up with. It allows people to recharge their batteries and continue in their caring role.

“Supporting carers is critical so we’ve allocated £200,000 from the Renfrewshire Change Fund Partnership to provide this new service. Now it’s there, we’re telling carers to take a break!”

The council is also encouraging anyone who regularly provides a substantial amount of care to someone else to have a carer’s assessment done. A carer’s assessment looks at:
*       How being a carer affects the person
*       How much care they can realistically provide without it adversely affecting their life beyond being a carer
*       What help they may need.

Anyone who cares for someone over the age of 65 years old, can ask for free, home-based respite care. More information about the service is available on  0141 207 7777 or  0300 300 1199.

Information about both home-based respite care and general help and advice for carers is available from the Renfrewshire Carers Centre on 0141 887 3643 and the council’s website www.renfrewshire.gov.uk

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Pupils serve up success to reach Scottish badminton competition

Forty six talented young badminton players from 13 high schools swung into action at a recent Renfrewshire badminton championship.

The players came together to take part in the Renfrew Area Schools Badminton Association (RASBA) competition with a team of top players now set to represent Renfrewshire, East Renfrewshire and Inverclyde at the Scottish Secondary Schools Championship at Perth in March.

badmintonThe pupils took part in singles and doubles events in under 14, under 16 and under 19 age groups at the end of January at the Lagoon Sports Hub.

The winners were:

  • U19 boys: Luke Fossett, St Ninian’s
  • U19 boys doubles: Luke Fossett and Leon Masia, both St Ninian’s
  • U16 boys: Leon Masia, St Ninian’s
  • U16 boys doubles: Graeme O’neil and Matthew Ross, Mearns Castle
  • U16 girls: Sarah Findlay, Park Mains
  • U16 girls doubles: Julie Eve and Soumya Lanke, both Williamwood
  • U14 boys: Calvin McGrory, Eastwood
  • U14 boys doubles: Calvin McGrory and Scott Johnston, both Eastwood
  • U14 girls: Julie Eve, Williamwood
  • U14 girls doubles: Hannah Cumming and Lucy Ross, both Williamwood

And the team that’s been selected to represent the area is:

  • Luke Fossett, St Ninian’s
  • Dean Kennedy, Glennifer
  • Allan Cowan, Glennifer
  • Leon Masia, St Ninians
  • Sarah Findlay, Park Mains
  • Graeme O’neil, Mearns Castle
  • Matthew Ross, Mearns Castle
  • Emma McAughtrie, Williamwood
  • Rebecca Mayer, Williamwood
  • Julie Eve, Williamwood
  • Sean McCallum, St Andrews
  • Jonathon Paris, Gryffe
  • Scott Johnston, Eastwood
  • Calvin McGrory, Eastwood

Councillor Jim Harte, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Sport, Leisure and Culture Policy Board, said: “This fantastic event brought together pupils from three areas to showcase their talent in badminton and give them a chance to go forward and compete at national level. Badminton is a great sport that helps our young people be more active while developing a range of physical skills. My congratulations go to all who took part and I’d like to wish those who will represent the area at national level the very best of luck.”

Eight Renfrewshire schools took part in the competition (Bt Bennedict’s, Gryffe, Park Mains, St Andrew’s, Glennifer, Linwood, Castlehead, Paisley Grammar); four East Renfrewshire schools took part (Eastwood, Mearns Castle, Williamwood, and St Ninians) and one Inverclyde school took part (Notre Dame).

www.renfrewshire.gov.uk

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Wanted: Young people with important opinions
Renfrewshire students are being urged to come along and have their say on local issues that are important to them later this month.

Renfrewshire Council is urging Reid Kerr College and University West of Scotland students to drop in to the UWS Brough Hall on Wednesday 20 February and voice their opinions during an interactive question and answer session.

Their views will help the council and its partners to shape the next Renfrewshire Community Plan.Renfrewshire_Council_ezg_1

Information stalls will also provide advice on community safety, student services, career and job opportunities including internships, volunteering, health, equality and human rights.

Renfrewshire Council Leader Mark Macmillan said: “Young people are our future and it’s so important that their views help to shape the next community plan for the area. The plan will set out the key areas that the council and our partners need to focus on to make Renfrewshire a better place to live, learn, work and do business. I would urge all young people who go to university or college here to some along and tell us what’s important to them.”

The drop-in session will be open from 12noon until 6pm. Refreshments will be provided.

There will be a free return bus service every half an hour between the main entrance of Reid Kerr College and Brough Hall from 12pm until 4.00pm.

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Job-seeking Recruits reach for the skies

A group of young jobseekers are hoping their careers will soon take flight after they were given clearance for take-off from a senior airport boss.

The latest batch of hopefuls in Renfrewshire Council’s highly-regarded Recruit programme packed their bags for Glasgow Airport, where they were given a glimpse into the world of high-flying.

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The Recruit is a youth employment programme loosely based on telly favourite The Apprentice, where entrants take part in a series of challenges, with a job on offer at the end for the overall winner.

This version of The Recruit is for people aged between 18 and 24 who have found themselves out of work and are looking to improve their CVs to get back in.

Also running is a programme for unemployed 16 and 17 year-olds. Both programmes started in January and will conclude with a grand finale in March, where the overall winners will be revealed.

Craig Martin, head of human resources for Glasgow Airport, gave the 18-to-24-year-old Recruits a presentation showing how staff there hit the heights of customer service.

He said: “We focussed on customer service skills, as we have had a major focus on that in the airport, and wanted to share our experiences with them.

“Customer service skills will be important in any job. I was impressed by the group – they are all volunteers who are trying to improve their situations.

“The Recruit is a fantastic programme and it is great they have an involvement with so many local employers.”

Councillor Roy Glen, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Economy and Jobs Policy Board, said: “Tackling youth unemployment is one of the key priorities of this council.

“The Recruit is an innovative and fun programme which has been a fixture in the council calendar for a number of years now.

“During this time, it has provided a direct route into work for many local young people, while equipping plenty more with the skills to do so.

“As always, we are grateful to the individuals and organisations such BAA who give up their time to help run challenges. Their help and input is hugely valued.”

The Recruit is run by Renfrewshire Council’s Youth Employability Services.

Since January, the fifteen young people in the 18-to-24-year-old programme have enjoyed a variety of business-related tasks, helped by organisations such as St Mirren and Renfrewshire Chamber of Commerce.

They have also been given training relating to CVs and interviews, and taken part in a challenge to create their own team logos.

For regular updates on local news and events follow @RenCouncilNews on Twitter or our page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/renfrewshirecouncil.

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Warning over public entertainment licence switch

Renfrewshire licensing chiefs are warning anyone planning an event locally not to be caught out by upcoming changes to the rules governing public entertainment.

Anyone planning to run a live performance or a fireworks display, among other things, will require a public entertainment licence as of this summer.

The rule-changes are set to come into force on 3 June of this year – meaning anyone organising events for the summer should think ahead now to make sure they get the licence they need.

Renfrewshire_Council_ezg_1Current examples of events which need a public entertainment licence include outdoor concerts, circuses, fairgrounds or large fetes, other than those run and hosted by schools, churches or voluntary groups.

As of June, licences will also be needed for video machine arcades, concert halls, fireworks displays, live performances, musical shows, paintball games, bungee jumping and motor shows.

Councillor John Hood, Convener of Renfrewshire Council’s Regulatory Functions Board, said: “We want organisers to be aware of these changes now so they can make sure all the paperwork is in place for any events they hold in the summer and beyond.

“We are keen to avoid a situation where we have to take action to stop events from happening because those running it weren’t aware the rules had changed and hadn’t got the proper licence.

“Organisers should bear in mind any application for a public entertainment licence will have to go through a four-week-minimum statutory notice period during which the public can make objections.

“Depending on the circumstances, the period for finalising an application could be significantly longer than four weeks – which is why we would encourage potential applicants to find out what they have to do ahead of any summer events.

“The council’s licensing staff can offer advice on what the rule-changes mean. They be reached by calling 0141 842 4499 or by emailing licensing.cs@renfrewshire.gov.uk.”

Award winning black comedy SLICK to play Paisley Arts Centre.

Using remarkable sleight of hand and ‘human puppets’, multi award winning SLICK is a hilarious, dark and dirty exploration of greed, corruption and loss of innocence. The story is told through the eyes of Malcolm Biggar, a nine year old with a passion for his skateboard, a harrowing fear of his lunatic neighbours and a growing realisation that perhaps his parents don’t always have his best interests at heart. 

SlickImage2013Malcolm’s sole aim in life is to convince his neglectful parents to buy him a helmet for skateboarding. But one day that all changes when crude oil begins pumping out of the Biggar family bathroom. Elation soon turns to desperation as they attempt to keep their new found wealth a secret from their depraved landlord and outrageous next door neighbours; ultimately leading to an explosive showdown that little Malcolm gets caught in the middle of.

Winner of a Scotsman Fringe First (2008) and a Critic’s Award for Theatre in Scotland (2008/2009), Vox Motus’ SLICK combines absurd comedy, visual storytelling, puppetry, object theatre and physical performance to create a unique ensemble show with comic-strip visuals.

SLICK will be at Paisley Arts Centre on Tuesday 5 March at 7.30pm. Tickets cost £10 (£6 conc) and can be booked by calling our Box Office on  0141 887 1010 or visiting www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/onlinebooking . Suitable for ages 14+

For further information on SLICK, future events and shows log on to www.renfrewshire.gov.uk/events or follow us on Facebook www.facebook.com/renfrewshirearts.