Essential services protected by Green budget proposals
27 November 2012
The Green administration of Brighton & Hove City Council today presented its draft budget plans against a backdrop of extensive funding cuts by the Conservative-led Coalition Government and the anticipated consequences of their welfare cuts.
The draft Green budget proposals protect essential services for residents and also offset 10% of the government's budget cuts with a modest 2% increase in council tax, below inflation and costing just 43p more a week for the average household; less than the price of a first class stamp.
Key measures in the draft 2013/14 budget include:
· All branch libraries to remain open;
· All children's centres to remain open;
· No changes to eligibility criteria for getting help from social care where many other councils are 'raising the bar';
· Support for carers protected;
· Maintaining one of Britain's last-remaining council-run youth services;
· Funding to prevent homelessness protected; also additional one-off resources identified to support this work further;
· Protecting grant funding to the voluntary and community sector, where many councils are halving or cutting such funding altogether;
· £300,000 additional support for key third sector financial advice organisations (e.g. Citizen's Advice Bureau) to help support residents who are worst hit by financial difficulties and government welfare cuts. These organisations are themselves threatened by government cuts to funding such as legal aid;
· Investing in incentives and infrastructure to support our growth industries such as the digital and creative sectors;
· Maintaining historically high levels of investment in transport improvements for the city;
· £8.4m more savings in expenditure, identified through increased efficiency and productivity;
Council Leader, Jason Kitcat said:
"The Green administration rejects the government's austerity cuts agenda, which is ill-considered and doing untold harm to our residents and the city's economy. Our draft Green budget is designed to protect essential services and carry on investing in our city, for the benefit of all residents and businesses.
"Our ability to continue supporting essential services and investing in the city, despite unprecedented government cuts, comes from prudent management of the council's spending and services over the last year, which leaves us in a much stronger position than many other cities as we enter the new budget round.
"As government welfare cuts bite into people's lives, the city council is seeing increasing demand for our welfare and care services. We also have ever-decreasing funds. I hope that in these difficult times, people will understand that the modest 2% council tax increase will help provide the services our city needs. It is less than inflation but, without it, services across the board, from libraries and street sweeping to care for children and the elderly, face being 10% worse off.
"These draft proposals build on the extensive consultation we've already had with the city on the challenging budget situation the city council faces. By publishing our proposals three months before the budget is finalised, we are once again providing an opportunity to listen properly to those affected, so that we can evolve our proposals ahead of the final decision in February."
The full picture for local government will only be available after the Government's Autumn Statement on 5th December, together with the Local Government Settlement which will be announced on 20th December and the schools funding settlement due in mid January 2013.
More information and ways to provide feedback can be found at http://www.brighton-hove.gov.uk/bhbudget
For more information please contact the Brighton and Hove Green Party office on 01273 766 670.
If you are a journalist and you need to contact a party spokesperson, please email our local media officers.
For national media information and assistance, please visit the national Green Party media centre.
Latest information from Caroline Lucas MP is at www.carolinelucas.com
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