Review of the Bellwin Scheme - A Consultation Paper

DescriptionReview of the Bellwin Scheme - A Consultation Paper
ISBN
Official Print Publication Date
Website Publication DateSeptember 02, 2005

    Listen

    ISBN 0 7559 2717 6 (Web only publication)
    This document is also available in pdf format (272k)

    Contents

    1. Introduction and Context for the Review
    2. History of the use of the Scheme
    3. Possible areas for revision
    4. To whom the consultation is addressed
    5. How to respond
    Annex A : Current operation of the scheme - Guidance Notes for Claims
    Annex B : List of Incidents and bar chart
    Annex C : Notes on triggering, audit requirement, thresholds and grant percentage.
    Annex D : Questionnaire
    Annex E : Respondee Information Form

    1. Introduction and Context for the Review

    1.1 The Bellwin Scheme for providing financial assistance towards councils' immediate costs in dealing with emergency incidents has been in operation in more or less the same form in Scotland since 1990, and in the UK as a whole since 1983. This discretionary scheme has played a key role in supporting local authorities' unforeseen and exceptional costs in the wake of emergencies.

    1.2 Scottish Ministers have agreed to review the future operation and scope of the Bellwin Scheme, with a view to making the Scheme more streamlined, accessible, transparent and fair. The current operation of the Scheme, and its main terms and conditions are described in detail at Annex A.

    1.3 It is important in setting the context for the review of the Scheme to recognise that local authorities have a statutory duty to incorporate the Civil Contingency and Emergency Planning functions within their Risk Management Strategies. The Local Government in Scotland Act 2003 further requires councils to apply Best Value practice in emergency planning. It is therefore assumed that councils will make budget provision, from the overall resources available to them, for dealing with contingencies and emergencies. For the purposes of the Bellwin Scheme, it was assumed that councils would set aside at least 0.2% of their overall budget for this purpose. In 1993, thresholds were therefore set at this level for each council and it was made clear that emergency funding under the Bellwin Scheme would only be provided where eligible claims exceeded these thresholds. Since 1993, threshold values have been up-rated in line with the retail price index on an annual basis.

    1.4 The Bellwin Scheme has never been the only source of funding available to councils faced with an emergency incident. In addition to their general budgets, councils can also draw on insurance claims, their Reserves, greater freedom to undertake borrowing to fund capital costs following the introduction of the prudential regime and, in certain circumstances, specific grant funding from the Scottish Executive. (For example, in responding to the damage in parts of the Western Isles following the storm of 10 and 11 January 2005, the Executive is providing significant additional grant funding for civil contingencies, roads' infrastructure and a school building, in addition to Bellwin assistance). Before the introduction of the prudential regime, it was often part of the response of Ministers to provide additional capital spending consent, but the new system now gives authorities the freedom to determine their own levels of capital expenditure. It should also be remembered that council's reserves should be kept to a minimum, intended as a fund for emergency contingencies rather than a savings account.

    1.5 Given this wider context, coupled with the Executive's commitment to control public expenditure, Ministers have hitherto resisted amending the current policy objective of the Scheme to provide financial assistance towards councils' immediate, uninsurable, revenue costs in dealing with unforeseen and exceptional emergencies.

    1.6 Within this policy, the legislation allows that the operation of the Scheme may be modified to reflect changing circumstances in order to better meet the requirements of local authorities. In particular, changes can be considered to the terms and conditions of the Scheme, such as: the triggering arrangements, the threshold calculation, the claims procedures and deadlines, and grant payment arrangements. The review currently being undertaken covers all these aspects of the Scheme. However, given the overriding duty on local authorities to have contingency and emergency arrangements embedded within their normal planning activity, the Scottish Ministers consider that the restrictions to limit support from the Scheme to revenue costs, uninsurable items and costs incurred only in the immediate aftermath of an incident should remain.

    2. History of the use of the Scheme

    2.1 In the last 13 years, the Bellwin Scheme has been 'triggered' 14 times. Triggering means that Scottish Ministers consider that a particular event falls within the definition of an emergency incident, in response to which the Scheme can operate. Total payments over this period have been around £11m, with one claim currently being processed.

    2.2 The highest single payment to date has been £1.8 million to the (then) Tayside Regional Council in 1993; the lowest being £68,585 to City of Edinburgh Council for the flooding incidents occurring in April and November 2000. Since 1993, 24 local authorities have successfully made at least one claim under the Bellwin Scheme. Of these, 12 have claimed more than once.

    2.3 The level of claims and grants made from year to year has been highly variable. In four (financial) years, 1993-94, 1996-97, 1999-00 and 2001-02, no Bellwin claims were made. Most triggering incidents have been due to the weather. The one exception was the collapse of housing built over disused limestone mines in Edinburgh in 2000. A full list of triggering incidents and the level of grants made under the Bellwin Scheme is attached at Annex B.

    2.4 The unpredictable nature of Bellwin claims has implications for the Executive's budget, both in terms of the frequency of triggering and the size of claims. The latest forecasts of climate change suggest that unpredictability will continue.

    3. Possible areas for revision

    3.1 In recent years, the main concerns raised by councils about the Bellwin Scheme are that:

    • it is overly bureaucratic;

    • the gap between the incident occurring and payment of assistance under the Scheme is too long;

    • the thresholds are too high, or out of date, and no longer accurately related to need;

    • the Scheme only covers uninsurable, revenue costs and, in particular, does not cover capital costs; and

    • the grant payment rate is too low.

    3.2 As noted, there are a number of areas within the current terms and conditions that could be considered by the review, but Ministers consider that the overarching criteria for any modifications should be measures aimed at making the Scheme more streamlined, accessible, transparent and fair for all claimants. In order to start the consultation process, the Scottish Executive has identified the following possible areas to be considered for revising and would welcome comments on the operation of the current arrangements and proposals for any changes:

    • Triggering - Are the arrangements for confirming that the Scheme has been triggered for a specific incident clear and unambiguous? (the current arrangements are set out within Annex A - copy of current Guidance Notes for Claims, Part A)

    • Supporting Documentation for Claims - Is the current guidance clear on the amount and detail of supporting documentation that is required when making a claim for assistance? Are the current requirements too burdensome? Should the requirements be streamlined, given that interim claims must be certificated by Directors of Finance and final claims must be supported by an audit certificate from the local authority's external auditors?

    • Thresholds - Does the calculation of the thresholds apply fairly across the local authorities? If not, how could it be revised to be fairer? Should factors other than budgetary requirement be included in the calculation of thresholds? For example, should road lane length be given greater weight within the calculation.

    • Grant Percentage - Should the grant percentage (currently 85% of eligible costs) be amended? This might be done in conjunction with abolishing the thresholds.

    Further details of these areas are outlined at Annex C. Consideration of these areas does not preclude other elements of the current terms and conditions being reviewed.

    4. To whom the consultation is addressed

    4.1 As the introduction states, the Bellwin Scheme exists to provide financial assistance to councils. For that reason, this consultation is addressed directly to councils. However, we recognise that others (both organisations and individuals) may also have an interest locally in how the Bellwin Scheme operates. We will therefore make the consultation document publicly available on the Scottish Executive web-site and we would also ask that councils, in framing their responses, take account of and reflect in their responses any views that may be expressed to them by their community planning partners and their local communities.

    5. How to respond

    5.1 Please complete and submit the Questionnaire attached at Annex D.

    Please note the deadline for receiving responses is 9 December 2005. Full instructions, including to whom to return the questionnaire, are given at Annex D. In addition to the questionnaire, we intend to visit a number of local authorities to discuss at first hand their past experience of making claims under the Scheme and suggestions for making improvements to its operation.

    5.2 This consultation and the questionnaire can be viewed and downloaded at the following website address: http://www.scotland.gov.uk/topics/government/local-government/17999/17462. All responses, whether electronic or written, will be carefully considered. Members of the public can telephone Freephone 0800 77 1234 to find out where their nearest public internet access point is.

    In due course, we will make all responses available to the public in the Scottish Executive Library, unless confidentiality is requested (see Annex E). All responses not marked confidential will be checked for any potentially defamatory material before being placed in the Scottish Executive Library.

    ANNEX A GUIDANCE NOTES FOR CLAIMS

    T HE BELLWIN SCHEME OF EMERGENCY FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE TO LOCAL AUTHORITIES

    GUIDANCE NOTES FOR CLAIMS

    These guidance notes set out the terms under which the Scottish Executive would normally be prepared to make available financial assistance to local authorities pursuant to a model scheme (known as the "Bellwin Scheme") drawn up in 1983 and established under section 155(2) of the Local Government and Housing Act 1989. This Act states that "the terms and conditions of a scheme shall be such as Scottish Ministers consider appropriate to the circumstances of the particular emergency or disaster concerned". In other words, the "model scheme" may be used as a starting point, but each scheme will be considered as an individual case and the model adjusted accordingly.

    1. Background

    The Bellwin Scheme is a discretionary scheme which exists to give special financial assistance to authorities who would otherwise be faced with an undue financial burden as a result of providing relief and carrying out immediate work due to large-scale emergencies. The Scheme has in the past been activated most frequently for the effects of severe weather, such as flooding or storm damage, although it may be invoked for other types of disaster, as the key criterion for the Scheme is "the safeguarding of life and property and the prevention of suffering or severe inconvenience".

    When it becomes obvious that there is an emergency taking place which is creating immediate demands on local government, the Scottish Executive Ministers will decide whether a scheme should be triggered. Once a scheme has been triggered, affected councils are invited to submit claims detailing their expenditure on the emergency. Claims are then scrutinised in light of the rules of the Scheme.

    2. Scope of the Scheme

    A scheme may be activated to meet the additional expense for local authorities in providing immediate relief, in safeguarding life and property in affected communities and in keeping key communications open in the immediate aftermath of an emergency. Its purpose is not to put right all the ill effects of an incident.

    The Scheme addresses revenue costs only and eligible costs are subject to a threshold which is set individually for each council according to a formula agreed with COSLA - in recognition of the fact that local authorities are expected to make contingency provision for such events in their budgets. In the event of an activation of a scheme of special financial assistance, the Scottish Executive will pay grant at the rate of 85% on eligible net additional emergency-related costs incurred by local authorities, above this threshold. Normally, a payment on account of 90% of estimated entitlement is made initially, with an adjustment for the balance being made on receipt of an audited claim.

    Costs which are considered to be insurable are not considered eligible under the Scheme. The benchmark for "normally insurable risks' is as defined by the Zurich Municipal SELECT policy. However, an element for insurance excesses is considered eligible within the Scheme. This is covered in part 5 of the following notes for guidance.

    3. Thresholds

    The thresholds for each authority for 2004-05 have been modelled on the lines of the methodology agreed with COSLA in 1998 and are listed at the end of this Guidance note.

    4. Eligible Expenses under the Scheme

    Authorities should note that the following revenue costs are only eligible if they were incurred in, or are directly attributable to the immediate aftermath of an emergency and refer to elements which are uninsurable. Where the connection between any employment and the immediate action taken in response to the specified incident is not obvious, the authority should provide sufficient information to enable the Department to take a decision as to the eligibility or otherwise of the employment concerned. More generally, the Department reserves the right to ask for such information and supporting data it considers necessary to help it establish the eligibility of a claim.

    In general, the scheme will provide assistance for expenditure which is incurred:

    • in relation to non-administration purposes, the costs of setting up temporary premises including the costs of removal and increased costs of doing so, due to rent, rates, taxes, lighting, heating, cleaning and insurance;

    • by the local authority in providing (or connected with providing) immediate relief or carrying out immediate works to safeguard life or property or prevent suffering or severe inconvenience;

    • as a result of the incident(s) specified in the scheme;

    • on works completed before a specified deadline (usually set at two months from the incident, although the Scottish Executive will be prepared to consider departures from this rule where this is justified by the nature and scale of the incident and falls within Scottish Ministers' statutory discretion).

    In particular, the following costs are eligible for consideration:

    • hire of additional vehicles, plant and machinery (and incidental expenses) when the activities for which they are hired are considered uninsurable;

    • removal of all trees and timber which are or may be dangerous to the public, including trees in public parks, local authority trees on highways, and trees owned by private householders which have fallen on or threaten public highways or rights of way;

    • the revenue costs of initial repairs to highways, pavements and footpaths, where a tree, item of street furniture or debris from a damaged building has fallen, and the surface of the road must be replaced at the time or temporarily patched for the public safety or to keep essential communications open (however, subsequent permanent repair would not qualify);

    • the revenue costs of initial land drainage works to clear debris and unblock water courses which are or may be the cause of danger to the public (however, long-term repair or replacement of previously dangerous or damaged structures would not qualify);

    • the revenue costs of other work to clear debris causing obstruction or damage to highways, pavements and footpaths;

    • the costs of additional temporary employees or contractors, to work on the emergency or replace permanent employees diverted from normal work, when not involved in work which could be deemed insurable;

    • special overtime for employees, either during the emergency or immediately afterwards to catch up on essential work from which they were diverted by the incident;

    • emergency works required to safeguard dangerous structures, including making them secure (where such work is not insurable, authorities should provide an explanation of why repair work is considered uninsurable);

    • costs of evacuating people from dangerous structures, and temporary re-housing;

    • costs of temporary mortuaries;

    • costs of supplying food, other stores, and key services to affected communities;

    • costs of maintaining key communications, such as the setting up of emergency communication headquarters or temporary telephone lines;

    • costs incurred under Military Assistance, except when that is provided free;

    • where repair is insufficient, the removal and replacement of street lighting, street signs, bus shelters and other street furniture, fences, railings, and uninsured outbuildings damaged by the incident, where in its damaged state it presents a danger to public safety or security;

    • legal, clerical and other charges incurred on the above work. These must be specified;

    and which is:

    • not in respect of costs which are normally insurable (see part 5);

    • net of any receipts ( e.g. from the sale of trees felled by a storm covered by a scheme);

    • not of a capital nature or capitalised.

    Authorities are asked to note that the making of a contribution to special funds is not likely to be regarded as qualifying expenditure under a scheme.

    5. Insurance Excesses

    Since 24 January 1997, the Bellwin Scheme in Scotland has been expanded to include an element for insurance excesses.

    Under the Bellwin scheme, authorities may include within their eligible costs sums in respect of insurance excesses at three different levels:

    • £50 maximum for each house (owned by the authority), and/or its contents;

    • £100 maximum for each general/educational building, and/or its contents;

    • £250 maximum for each industrial property (owned by the authority), and/or its contents.

    However, where the authority has external insurance with a lower actual excess for any relevant property, the claim should cover only the lower figure.

    6. Direct Labour/Service Organisations

    Authorities can in certain circumstances, detailed below, claim for the eligible costs of diverting DLO/ DSO labour to help with the immediate repair work, or of employing outside contractors. However, the way of calculating these additional eligible costs must follow the calculation guidance below and the Council's Director of Finance should be prepared to make a statement that the normal DLO/ DSO labour costs have been excluded from the calculation. Under any scheme, expenditure related to the works included in section 2(2) of the Local Government Act 1988 and section 10(2) of the Local Government, Planning and Land Act 1980, when those works are undertaken in response to an emergency for which a scheme of special financial assistance has been activated, is covered by the scheme. The additional costs ( i.e. net of the costs of undertaking normal work had there been no emergency) of employing either private contractors or a DLO/ DSO to work directly on the emergency or to carry out work from which either of them has been diverted to deal with the emergency are eligible. The costs will be calculated as follows:

    (a) Where a DLO/ DSO is subject to the accounting rules of the DLO/ DSO legislation, the costs are calculated on the basis of the amount credited to the DLO/ DSO revenue account in keeping with section 9(2) of the Local Government Act 1988. The net additional cost of employing the DLO/ DSO in emergency work is calculated on the basis of the amount credited to the DLO/ DSO account in respect of the emergency plus the amount credited to the DLO/ DSO account in respect of a successful claim by the DLO/ DSO for being diverted from other work minus the amount which would have been credited to the DLO/ DSO account for normal work had there been no emergency.

    In other words, councils can only claim for labour costs which are in excess of normal wages (including overtime if applicable) and directly related to uninsurable works that are eligible under the Scheme.

    (b) Where the work carried out is not subject to the accounting rules of the DLO/ DSO legislation, the cost will consist of:

    • overtime payments to permanent manual employees, either in the emergency or later to catch up on essential work to which they have been diverted;

    • extra temporary manual employees called in either to work directly on the emergency or to replace permanent employees diverted from their normal work;

    • a proportionate additional charge in respect of equipment and plant used for emergency work, calculated in accordance with the authority's normal rules for accounting for depreciation.

    7. Exclusions from the Scheme

    Authorities should note in particular the following examples of expenditure which would not qualify under a Bellwin Scheme:

    • loss of income (eg, from facilities closed as a result of an emergency) as this falls outside the scope of section 155 of the Local Government Housing Act 1989.

    • the normal wages and salaries of the authority's regular employees, whether diverted from their normal work or otherwise, and the standing costs of the authority's plant and equipment;

    • the cost of dealing with any damage or loss that is insurable under normal insurance policies. The Scottish Executive would not itself normally expect to contribute towards insurable losses. Damage to the structure of private houses and buildings will normally be covered under household policies. (See part 5 for the rules on claims for insurance excesses);

    • the cost of associated labour expenses, if the cost of dealing with the damage or loss is normally insurable ( e.g. as the cost of damage from burst pipes is insurable, so is the cost of the labour to repair them.);

    • longer term works of repair and restoration, such as tree planting and repair or refurbishment of damaged but not dangerous structures;

    • payment to householders or others in respect of non-insurable items such as garden fences and trees and shrubs, unless action had to be taken immediately because they presented a danger to the community (such costs may be recoverable from those on whose behalf they were incurred);

    • any element of betterment, e.g. repairs to buildings to a significantly higher standard than their condition on the day before the incident;

    • expenditure eligible for any other specific grant, e.g. police grant, or reclaimable from a third party;

    • any amounts in respect of specific works on coast protection or flood defence which had already been allocated within budgeted expenditure to these works before the incident occurred (however, subsequent amounts for emergency work resulting from the incident above the level of any amounts thus allocated for routine purposes would usually be eligible for assistance). Any flood prevention or coast protection schemes taken forward by councils in the aftermath of an emergency which attracted a Bellwin award could be the subject of separate arrangements covering capital grant and allocation. Each scheme will be considered on its merits;

    • any expenditure which is of a capital nature or capitalised;

    • costs which are normally considered to be covered by the Councils' winter maintenance budget.

    Authorities should also note that:

    • they are expected to have some form of external insurance or 'self-insurance' to cover 'normal' emergencies;

    • the shoring up or dismantling of damaged buildings is an insurable cost;

    • authorities whose policies may bear less risk than the Zurich Municipal SELECT Policy would still be bound by its definition of normally insurable risks as regards qualifying expenditure under a Bellwin scheme; authorities whose policies include cover for greater risks than the basic SELECT Policy should exclude from their qualifying expenditure all costs for which they are covered and will be compensated;

    • where other types of incident occur, for example fire, explosion or impact by aircraft, and unavoidably higher policy excesses than those above are incurred, the Scottish Executive will be prepared to consider varying its definition of insurable costs where this is justified by the nature and scale of the emergency; and

    • damage caused by terrorism remains an insurable cost.

    8. Claims

    To enable authorities to provide information as soon as an emergency occurs, a claim form for use in making initial and final claims is enclosed with these guidance notes. Please note that the definitions of qualifying and non-qualifying expenditure may be reviewed and made specific in this event, to take account of particular circumstances.

    Advice on completion and return of the form (including any deadlines) will be provided by the Scottish Executive at the time of a triggering of the scheme. However, authorities should bear in mind the following points which apply to claims:

    • claims must be signed by the authority's Director of Finance or approved signatory, to the effect that it complies with the scheme in question;

    • authorities must now provide the Scottish Executive with a list of properly designated officials (and their signatures) with the authority to sign any claim for assistance, i.e. the Director of Finance or equivalent.

    • supporting information should be provided with the claim form. It should be specific and relevant and should give a clear picture of the event and its effects, demonstrating where they may be doubt, why the authority considers an amount to be eligible. In addition to speeding up the processing of the claim, this will strengthen the claim for assistance;

    • with the above in mind, authorities should liaise with their auditors at an early stage, to ascertain their requirements for supporting evidence of expenditure;

    • records in support of any claim should be kept in such a fashion that they are readily accessible for audit. In particular, supporting information should be supplied on the works completed by or on behalf of the authority in sufficient detail to make clear the place, date, type, cost and timing of the remedial work.

    • authorities intending to use agents to undertake work should note that the claiming authority's procedures should be capable of demonstrating that any claim is based on the qualifying expenditure, and that proper arrangements have been employed both for specifying the work and for ensuring it has been completed satisfactorily;

    • details of qualifying costs under other schemes in the same financial year will be provided where relevant when any scheme is issued;

    • provision will be made on any claim form for it to be certified at the final stage by the auditor appointed by the Accounts Commission for Scotland.

    • final claims should be completed in duplicate, with a copy being supplied simultaneously to the Scottish Executive and the auditor by a deadline specified in the scheme; in the event that a final claim is not submitted to the auditor by this date, the authority will be asked to submit an early estimate of the likely size of the final claim;

    • the figures included in the final claim form should relate to actual expenditure and should be precise.

    2004-05 Bellwin Threshold

    Aberdeen City

    430,063

    Aberdeenshire

    491,613

    Angus

    245,562

    Argyll & Bute

    223,075

    Clackmannanshire

    103,863

    Dumfries & Galloway

    347,754

    Dundee City

    347,579

    East Ayrshire

    269,917

    East Dunbartonshire

    231,094

    East Lothian

    191,865

    East Renfrewshire

    195,271

    Edinburgh, City of

    915,281

    Eilean Siar

    97,269

    Falkirk

    308,504

    Fife

    771,993

    Glasgow City

    1,478,927

    Highland

    520,818

    Inverclyde

    198,589

    Midlothian

    178,221

    Moray

    191,481

    North Ayrshire

    310,495

    North Lanarkshire

    713,359

    Orkney

    68,291

    Perth & Kinross

    298,567

    Renfrewshire

    387,999

    Scottish Borders

    250,870

    Shetland

    88,286

    South Ayrshire

    247,317

    South Lanarkshire

    667,895

    Stirling

    195,806

    West Dunbartonshire

    230,357

    West Lothian

    343,152

    Scotland

    11,541,133

    ANNEX B: List of incidents and bar chart of payments

    Since 1993, the Bellwin scheme has been triggered 14 times.

    Tayside Flooding 1993

    Date of incident:

    13-15 January 1993

    Nature of incident:

    Flooding caused by severe snow, then widespread and rapid thaw, heavy rain, high winds and high tides, - worst flooding on record for this area. Other forms of government assistance made available. Substantial damage to housing, particularly in one housing estate. 1,000-1,500 people in temporary accommodation for 10 months.

    Bellwin triggered:

    18 January 1993 (for the then Tayside Regional Council)

    Total grant:

    £2,105,994 of which only £1,895,395 (90%) was finally paid due to inability of the council to provide sufficient background evidence for £700k of original claim

    Strathclyde Flooding 1994

    Date of incident:

    early December 1994

    Nature of incident:

    River flooding, flood appeal set up, other forms of government help, and a lot of press coverage, Ministerial interest. Temporary accommodation for 642 people (220 households) for more than 2 weeks

    Bellwin triggered:

    19 December 1994 (for the then Strathclyde Regional Council)

    Total grant:

    £341,339 for Renfrewshire

    £2,688 for Strathkelvin

    £344,027 in total

    Grampian Flooding 1995

    Date of incident:

    early September 1995

    Nature of incident:

    Road closures, landslides, flooding. Substantial press coverage. Extra government help for farmers. Note on file that calls from council fairly low-key compared to Strathclyde flooding and so TSO waited to see whether expenditure would be above threshold.

    Bellwin triggered:

    March 1996 (for the then Grampian Regional Council)

    Total grant:

    £153,777 in total

    Severe Weather December 1995/January 1996

    Date of incident:

    Dec/Jan 1995/1996

    Nature of incident:

    Freeze-flood. Water damage to properties, commercial and otherwise.

    Bellwin triggered:

    4 August 1996

    Total grant:

    £4,011,000 approx. for 22 councils

    Dumfries and Galloway 1996

    Date of incident:

    February 1996

    Nature of incident:

    Snow-storms. Road-clearing, distributing food to those stranded/staying in cars overnight, 1000 people housed in rest centres, 11,500 homes with power cuts.

    Bellwin triggered:

    22 August 1996

    Total grant:

    £151,726

    Moray Flooding 1997

    Date of incident:

    I July 1997

    Nature of incident:

    Severe flooding, 800 people evacuated hundreds of properties affected, about 100 in temporary rest centres, territorial army called in.

    Bellwin triggered:

    3 July 1997

    Total grant:

    £692,451

    South West and Central Belt - Boxing Day storms 1998

    Date of incident:

    26/27 December 1998

    Nature of incident:

    Very strong winds, damaged buildings, felled trees, debris on roads

    Bellwin triggered:

    8 April 1999

    Total grant:

    £1,138,006 paid to four councils (East Ayrshire - £243,352, Renfrewshire - £340,170, South Lanarkshire - £260,724 and West Dunbartonshire - £293,760).

    Edinburgh & Midlothian Flooding 2000

    Date of incident:

    26-28 April and 7-8 November 2000

    Nature of incident:

    Heavy rain caused damage to housing, roads and required the evacuation of an old peoples' home.

    Bellwin triggered:

    30 August 2001

    Total grant:

    £68,585 paid to City of Edinburgh Council.

    Subsidence at Ferniehill (Edinburgh) 2000

    Date of incident:

    December 2000

    Nature of incident:

    Collapse of buildings over a disused limestone mine. Demolition of buildings, re-housing of residents.

    Bellwin triggered:

    3 August 2001

    Total grant:

    £692,636 paid to City of Edinburgh Council.

    Scottish Borders and South Lanarkshire Heavy Snowfalls 2001

    Date of incident:

    26/27 February 2001

    Nature of incident:

    Heavy snowfalls stranded passengers on roads which needed to be cleared. Emergency supplies were required for people cut off by the snow.

    Bellwin triggered:

    30 August 2001

    Total grant:

    £291,134 paid to Scottish Borders and £285,865 paid to South Lanarkshire.

    Moray Flooding 2002

    Date of incident:

    16/17 November 2002

    Nature of incident:

    Flood. Moray Council's costs were primarily for decanting vulnerable residents to a reopened old people's home and the associated care.

    Bellwin triggered:

    20 August 2004 (21 months after incident)

    Total grant:

    £415,918 paid to Moray on 25 August 2004.

    Shetland Landslides 2003

    Date of incident:

    19 September 2003

    Nature of incident:

    Heavy rainfall, causing flooding and landslides. Damage to public property including water mains and telephone equipment, stock fencing, the flooding of houses and buildings and the damage to private roads.

    Bellwin triggered:

    3 August 2004 (10 months after incident )

    Total grant:

    £215,892 paid to Shetland.

    Perth & Kinross Flooding 2004

    Date of incident:

    18 August 2004

    Nature of incident:

    Incidence of severe flooding which caused landslides and serious damage to the local transportation infrastructure (local roads and footpaths) and significant disruption to local communities, including some towns being cut off.

    Bellwin triggered:

    16 September 2004

    Total grant:

    Perth & Kinross' interim payment £160,831, awaiting final audited claim

    Storm damage in North-West coastal areas January 2005

    Date of incident:

    10/11 January 2005

    Nature of incident:

    Severe storms and flooding resulting in serious damage to the local transport infrastructure and significant disruption to communities across Eilean Siar, Orkney and Highland areas.

    Bellwin triggered:

    14 February 2005

    Total grant:

    Interim payment made to Eilean Siar £368,506 and Orkney Islands £81,798. Highland claim being processed.

    Details of Bellwin Claims (date of incident) during financial years 1992/93 - 2004/05 (net payments made)

    Details of Bellwin Claims (date of incident) during financial years 1992/93 - 2004/05 (net payments made)

    ANNEX C: Notes on Triggering, Audit Requirement, Thresholds and Grant percentage

    In considering the relative benefits and drawbacks of the proposed areas for revision, it may be useful to note the current position with regard to :

    Triggering: Currently the Scheme can be triggered by Scottish Ministers either directly following an incident or in response to a request from councils where the severity of the impact and the costs incurred may not have been at first wholly apparent. The Bellwin Scheme can only be triggered if a local authority requests that a particular incident falls under the Bellwin definition and notifies that it intends to make a claim that will exceed its threshold. In some cases the length of time between the incident and the 'trigger' has been many months - 21 months in the case of the Moray floods of November 2002 . Perhaps a time limit should be put on this process following the date of the incident for the scheme to be triggered?

    Thresholds: These are currently applied annually by up-rating the previous year's total threshold by the RPI then distributing pro rata to each councils' share of Estimated Service Expenditure (Grant Aided Expenditure plus Special Islands Needs Allowance).

    Aligning thresholds more closely to relative expenditure in Scotland would have the effect of tying thresholds to increasing spend which would benefit some authorities more than others regardless of their relative need for emergency assistance in the past, under the Bellwin Scheme.

    Over the past 12 years, the tendency has been for the larger, more rural authorities, often with extensive coastlines, to have been prone to emergency incidents which have necessitated larger Bellwin claims due to extensive damage to roads. However the previous relative level of need, or vulnerability, is not reflected in the current distribution of thresholds. It may be possible to include factors other than budgetary requirement, such as coastline length or road lane length into the distribution of the thresholds in order to adequately represent their relative vulnerability. There may also be issues for urban authorities where storm damage has necessitated the provision of temporary accommodation for large numbers of people.

    Audit requirement: Under the current guidance, a payment of 90% of the entitlement is made initially, with the balance of 10% being made on receipt of an audited claim. The audit must be performed by an auditor appointed by the Accounts Commission for Scotland. Currently Scottish Executive officials have a duty to scrutinise all claims to ensure they comply with the rules of the Scheme. Therefore there is a duplication of resources, with a copy of the final claim being supplied simultaneously to the Executive and the auditor, with the Executive checking the eligibility of the claim to make the initial payment of 90%, following which the final audit certification will be issued to the Executive in order for the final payment to be processed. Supporting information should be provided with the claim form. It should be specific and relevant. The requirements for supporting documentation for the claim could be streamlined in that the local authority would only have to include such information to the Executive that which would allow the Executive to be assured that the claim met with the Scheme's criteria and provide all necessary supporting information to the auditor to allow the claim to gain audit certification.

    Other than the duplication of resources, the other weaknesses in the current system are firstly the lack of any time limit under which the audit should be complete and submitted to the Executive and secondly that there does not seem to be any detail of the repayment of funding where the audit is not performed. These two areas are normally detailed as part of the standard terms and conditions for grant funding by other policy areas within the Executive. There is no impetus for a local authority to ensure that the audit is performed, they will have received the 90% payment and may not need to push for the balance of 10%. As a result, the Executive always has outstanding claims awaiting audit certification. To tackle this explicit issue, deadlines for claims may be required alongside repayment requirements or possibly amending the grant payments to 50% on account and 50% following audit.

    Grant percentage: Currently stands at 85%. This limitation, along with the threshold is predicated on the expectation that all authorities must make a provision for unexpected contingencies within their normal budgeting process. It therefore may seem unjustifiable to have both a threshold and a limited percentage applying to grant claims.

    ANNEX D - QUESTIONNAIRE

    This questionnaire should be read and completed in conjunction with the consultation paper 'Review of the Bellwin Scheme' and Annexes A, B and C. It has been devised to seek your views on the current operation of the Scheme, and how it might be improved with the constraints set out in the Consultation paper 'Introduction and Context'.

    form graphic

    Confidentiality

    It is normal practice for responses to be made publicly available, unless it is indicated by respondents that their comments should remain confidential, see Annex E.

    Acknowledgements

    All responses will be acknowledged either in writing or electronically. However please note that it may not be possible for the Executive to respond individually to particular comments made.

    Deadline for responses

    The deadline for responses is Friday 9 December 2005

    Completion and Submission of Responses

    You have 2 options for completing and submitting your responses :

    E-Mail to: Bellwinreview@scotland.gsi.gov.uk
    Or
    In writing to:
    Hilary Pearce or Sarah Parkin
    Scottish Executive
    Local Government Finance and Local Funding Division
    Area 3-J Dockside
    Victoria Quay
    Edinburgh
    EH6 6QQ
    Telephone: 0131-244-7950/7009
    Fax: 0131-244-7020

    form graphic

    ANNEX E - RESPONDEE INFORMATION FORM

    All respondents should be aware that the Scottish Executive are subject to the provisions of the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002 and would therefore have to consider any request to it under the Act for information relating to responses made to this consultation exercise.

    Please complete the details below and attach it with your response. This will help ensure we handle your response appropriately:

    form graphic

    form graphic