Union leaders in Brighton and Hove have backed Green Party calls to ‘Let the people decide’ on an alternative budget which would safeguard critical services for elderly and vulnerable people and cancel out austerity cuts passed down from the coalition government.
Mark Turner the city’s GMB branch secretary said:
“This new budget would protect frontline services in adult social care and a disabled workshop where we have members. Cuts would have absolutely terrible consequences on people’s lives. It is only right that the public have a chance to vote on this proposal.”
Alex Knutson the city’s Unison branch secretary added:
“Local government is groaning under the strain of trying to deliver services with ever-reducing funds. The Coalition’s austerity measures are creating extreme social hardship and are fundamentally fragmenting our society”.
Both unions will be consulting their membership on the social care referendum proposals in the coming weeks.
Council leader Jason Kitcat is calling for a public debate on the social care and funding pressures facing the city:
“The financial pressures on our city council are greater than ever before. The Coalition in Westminster is strangling local government and we have seen our funding cut by tens of millions in the last three years. Meanwhile people are living longer and we have a growing elderly population to support. These pressures have been widely warned of by independent and cross-party groups like the Local Government Association and the Joseph Rowntree Trust.”
Lead member for Finance and Resources Councillor Leo Littman defended the Green administration’s prudent financial management:
“In the face of huge government cuts to our funding each year we have worked hard to ensure tax payers’ money is spent wisely. We have already saved almost £30 million through efficiency programmes and in recent years our council tax rises have been far below inflation, but the fact is we are now reaching a point where the combination of rising costs and the government’s narrow-minded austerity measures are putting services to the elderly and vulnerable are at risk.”
Councillor Kitcat urged opposition politicians to get behind the proposal to let the public decide: “I appreciate times are tough for our citizens as most wages are not keeping up with costs. So this is the right time to ask the people what they think is the right approach – do we cut back services or pay extra, £4.53 a month or less for the majority of households, to show we really are a caring society?”
Latest analysis shows that a 4.75% increase for a Band C property would cost £4.53 per month, lower than previous estimates. The majority of Brighton & Hove households are in Bands A to C.
For more information please contact the Brighton and Hove Green Party office on 01273 766 670.