The Labour Council’s budget plans must do more to reflect scale of challenges ahead, say Greens
Green Councillors have today announced their proposals for the council’s budget, outlining plans to invest over £11m in measures preventing climate change, tackling the housing crisis and stopping cuts.
While opposition parties are only granted limited changes to the budget, Greens have already put over £3m into this year’s budget, after successful proposals for homelessness support were accepted at a committee meeting earlier this month.
Greens will set out their plans to invest in the local community, economy and environment at a council meeting this Thursday, including:
- £3.9m for transport improvements in the city, including to roads and pavements, bus shelters, electric vehicle charging, the city’s bike share scheme and investing in public transport;
- Funding set aside to support the recommendations made by residents taking part in the city’s ‘Climate Assembly,’
- Investing £2.6m in a city-wide ‘Warmer Homes’ programme, providing grants for insulation, to prevent cold homes and fuel poverty
- Funding to increase tree planting, community composting and food schemes in the city
- Reversing existing cuts to the city’s domestic violence perpetrator programme and increasing the budget for services tackling violence against women and girls, to reflect rising demand for this work;
- Reversing over £100k cuts planned for the city’s communities, equalities and voluntary group work
- Reducing the cuts to learning disability services by £234k and providing extra support to the city’s only disability advice centre;
- Reducing the cost of permits for traders, to support small businesses in the city
- Revising some parking charges to generate income – while Green proposals for increases to Controlled Parking Zones (CPZ) fees and high emission vehicle costs will not apply to the poorest households or those on benefits
Greens say amendments bringing in funding for key services – such as those tackling the climate emergency, housing crisis and supporting communities – must be given support. Plans to make cuts to community services in the current Labour budget have been criticised by Greens and campaigners, including a £1.47m cut proposed to learning disability care.
With a decision on the city’s spending plans due on Thursday, Greens say the council must do more to support local communities and protect those facing the catastrophic effects of climate change. Describing the current Labour budget as ‘lacking in ambition,’ Greens say current plans do not provide the resources needed to ensure the council meets the challenges ahead: including the target of reducing toxic emissions by 2030.
Urging all parties to back the amendments, Greens say the city’s budget is an opportunity to unlock a ‘Green New Deal,’ where environmental projects that create jobs, tackle poverty and boost the local economy are given priority. Plans by the Greens to invest in projects for Warmer Homes, for example, will bring down high energy bills for residents, tackle poverty and reduce the city’s carbon footprint.
Green Finance Lead, Councillor David Gibson, commented:
“At the heart of our budget approach is a strong commitment to social and environmental justice. We are also focused on fairness – fairness to future generations facing a climate emergency, and fairness to low-income households and the most vulnerable.
“Our plans reverse cuts to services for the most vulnerable, such as those with learning disabilities, cuts to communities and equalities provision and short breaks for carers. And they raise money – most of which will be spent on the urgent action needed to tackle the climate emergency.
“None of our proposals take from one service to pay for another. Instead we are raising fees through penalties for irresponsible drivers who slow public transport down and by modest increases in some parking charges. This will provide the vital staff capacity necessary to plant trees and protect biodiversity, to make transport more sustainable, to develop renewable solar energy and to ensure social value and community wealth generation is better embedded in the council’s activities.
“We are asking: is our council’s commitment to tackling the climate emergency just hot air or do we vote for a budget that provides the staff and resources needed to address it? All parties signed up to the climate emergency in December 2018; now we urge them to act.”