Friday, 19 December 2014

Council vows to assist city’s poorest people despite government cuts

Leeds City Council has vowed to find ways to continue to help those in poverty despite government funding being taken away.

Yesterday’s local government funding settlement announcement confirmed that the government will no longer provide extra funding to councils to help some of the poorest people.

Since 2013 Leeds City Council has been providing crisis payments to people in need, following the government’s decision to scrap the Jobcentre Plus-run crisis loans scheme. This was funded with a £2.8m grant from the government in 2013/14 and 2014/15, enabling the council to support thousands of residents faced with short-term emergencies.

However, yesterday’s funding announcement confirms that this extra money will no longer be available to councils across the country from next year. Instead of providing extra money, the government has identified an amount within the council’s grant that could be spent on local welfare support, despite the grant settlement being 15.8% less than was received last year.

Without the extra money Leeds City Council is unable to afford to continue providing the current scheme, however the council’s executive board has agreed that it will find money to run a reduced scheme from April 2015 but that regrettably more people will now need to be referred to food banks and furniture re-use centres for help.

Keith Wakefield, the leader of Leeds City Council, said:
“This is nothing more than smoke and mirrors. Councils took on this important work in good faith and have worked hard to develop schemes that provide real support when people need it most. The government has decided to scrap this extra funding and that means that the full cost of supporting people in need falls on this council at a time when we are faced with the biggest cuts we have ever had to manage. No matter how it is dressed this up, the reality is that the poorest have been hit hardest again”

ENDS
For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713
Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk

Keep it cool at Millennium Square’s Ice Cube in the New Year



Top picture caption: The Ice Cube will return to Millennium Square on Friday 23 January 2015.

Bottom picture caption: Have you got what it takes to take a ride on the North Pole Starflyer?

A fun-filled ice skating oasis is once again set to wash away any New Year blues on Millennium Square next month.

In what is always a highlight in the city’s events calendar, the ever-popular Ice Cube will be the offering people of all ages and abilities the opportunity to experience the magic of outdoor ice skating, learn new skills on the ice, or just the chance to get active and healthy in 2015.

Organised by Leeds City Council with support from media partners Capital FM and the Yorkshire Evening Post and now in its 15th year, the Ice Cube will be open from Friday 23 January until Sunday 22 February 2015. Tickets for all public skating sessions now available to book in advance either online at www.leeds.gov.uk/icecube or by calling the booking line on 0843 208 1841. Tickets are priced at £8 adults, £6 children (12yrs and under) with discounts available for LEEDSCard or BreezeCard holders.

Besides general public skating there will also be an opportunity for people of all ages and abilities to sharpen their skills under the watchful gaze of expert coaches.

A four-week National Ice Skating Association (NISA) tuition programme for skating enthusiasts of all levels will be held on a Saturday and Sunday morning by Skate UK qualified skating professionals. Priced at £68 per person places are now available to book by calling the City Centre Box Office in the Carriageworks Theatre on 0113 224 3801. A limited number of weekend individual lessons will also be available to book on a first come first served basis.

A special ‘first steps to skating’ tuition programme for Leeds schools children will also be available during term time for schools to book and a weekly dedicated accessible session every Thursday morning between 9am to 10am is available for wheelchair users and the disabled.

Councillor Lucinda Yeadon, Leeds City Council’s executive member for digital and creative technologies, culture and skills said:

"It is always fantastic to welcome back the tremendously popular Ice Cube to Millennium Square and our 2015 event really promise to be one of the best yet.

"The Ice Cube is the perfect destination for people of all ages and abilities to have great fun on the ice, and if you do want to brush up or learn new skills, don’t miss out on the chance to be coached by the experts in our ice skating tuition programme.

"With our new attraction the North Pole Starflyer also set to make its debut, Millennium Square is the only place to be for a great day or evening out with your friends and family from Friday 23 January."

Visitors to the Ice Cube will also be able to enjoy other winter-themed attractions including, the North Pole Starflyer – a brand new attraction for 2015 offering the nearest thing to flying as you gracefully soar 30m in the air through 360 degrees!

The popular Capital FM Snowslide – a 40m dry slope snow-tubing slide, the Snowball Adventure – a giant inflatable obstacle course inside a giant snowball, and the Glacier Run Simulator will also be returning together with other icy themed rides for children of all ages. Tasty treats and hot and cold snacks will also be available for all visitors in the Dolomites Café by Casa Mia.

For full skating details including prices and skating session times together with further information for all other attractions can be found at www.leeds.gov.uk/icecube

For media enquiries, please contact;
Colin Dickinson, Leeds City Council press office (0113) 39 51578
Email: colin.dickinson@leeds.gov.uk



Thursday, 18 December 2014

Statement on government grant settlement for Leeds

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield said:

“It is quite alarming that the core grant funding cut announced today for Leeds is even worse than we feared – 15.8 per cent down from last year when we had been expecting 14.9 per cent. That is only going to make an incredibly difficult situation even harder and I’m afraid there is no doubt this is now going to affect all areas of the council, including frontline services and undermining vital services for vulnerable people.

“Even using the government’s own measure of ‘spending power’, the cut for Leeds is yet again well above the national average and continues the sadly predictable trend of the north bearing the brunt compared to the south, with some councils there receiving increases which cannot be right. National bodies like the National Audit Office, Office for Budget Responsibility and Institute for Fiscal Studies have all warned that this continuing austerity is unsustainable and yet northern councils keep being asked to cut more when at the same time the Whitehall machine continues unchecked. That is simply not fair and serious questions need to be asked why that is.”

ENDS

For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde,
Leeds City Council press office,
Email: roger.boyde@leeds.gov.uk

Diana Award honour for Leeds Youth Council


The members of the Leeds Youth Council have been recognised for their campaign work with a prestigious Diana Award.

The youth council, which is made up of young people aged 11 to 19 years old from across the city, received the Diana Award in recognition of the time and dedication they have shown to actively campaign on issues that are important to the young people of Leeds.

The Diana Award is a legacy to Princess Diana’s belief that young people have the power to change the world for the better. Since 1999, the Diana Award has recognised over 42,000 young people who have made a positive difference to the lives of others and their communities. The aim of the Diana Award is to recognise young people for their contribution to society, empower them to reach their full potential and encourage them to engage in social action as early as possible.

The Leeds Youth Council received the award for being a Diana Active Campaigner in the local community. Over the last two years the group have volunteered over 1500 hours of their time to actively campaign on issues that are important to the young people of Leeds.

Councillor Judith Blake, executive board member responsible for children and families, said:
“This is a fantastic achievement for the members of the Leeds Youth Council, and great recognition of the work they do representing the young people of our city. I’m sure this award will encourage them to continue their hard work and encourage others to stand up for their beliefs.”

In receiving the award the member of the Leeds Youth Council are able to join the Diana Network, a programme opening doors to work experience, volunteering and campaigning whilst training young people in employability and social action skills.

Tessy Ojo Executive Director of the Diana Award said:
“The Diana Award is proud to recognise young campaigners, like the Leeds Youth Council who have the confidence and courage to stand up for what they believe. The Diana Active Campaigner Award is presented to inspirational young people who have made a positive difference in the communities. With a growing network of over 42,000 Award Holders, we are building a force of young people who are committed to take social action and improve our communities.”

As part of the Diana Network Young people can also join the Anti-Bullying Ambassadors Programme which trains young people across the UK and Ireland to become Anti-Bullying Ambassadors in their schools or communities; helping to prevent bullying and ensure everyone is happy and safe online and offline.

The Training and Mentoring Programme gives Award Holders who have achieved something remarkable themselves to become Youth Mentors to disadvantaged young people.

For more information on the Diana Award or to make a nomination please visit – www.diana-award.org.uk

ENDS
For media enquiries, please contact:
Emma Whittell, Leeds City Council press office, on (0113) 2474713
Email: emma.whittell@leeds.gov.uk