Protecting core services, prevention and support for vulnerable prioritised after difficult year and impact of pandemic.
Green Councillors have released draft proposals for the city council’s budget, ahead of a final decision on council spending plans taking place on 25th February.
With the Covid-19 pandemic placing huge strain on residents in the city, and following ten years of cuts to council funding, Greens say it is vital that core services for residents are protected: focusing particularly on services for children, young people, families and on adult social care.
After a challenging year for councils up and down the country, Green councillors are able to present a balanced draft budget, setting out plans to save many core services from cuts and to secure investment for future years.
Green Councillor and joint finance lead Tom Druitt commented:
“Since 2009/10 this council has lost £110m of funding as a result of government cuts, but despite this we are putting forward proposals for a balanced budget for 21/22 with children, young people, older people and our most vulnerable residents at its heart.
“Key services like nurseries, children’s centres, community libraries and customer services are being protected and we are making investments in youth services.
“In addition we are making significant investments in health, adult social care and learning disability services in order to help people maintain their independence and quality of life; and we are also investing in the city’s economic recovery to better support local businesses, our arts and culture sector and our tourist economy, under pressure like never before.
“This is also a budget for the future, with major investment in action to combat the climate crisis and in housing and homelessness, warmer homes, sustainable transport and safer school streets.
“Major projects such as Madeira Terraces are at the centre of our regeneration plans, and we are also proposing to put money into tackling graffiti and making our city more welcoming to visitors.
“From public health to adult social care it’s clear that council services have been central to the pandemic response. We stand with residents and businesses who are struggling at this time and will continue in the weeks ahead to work on these budget proposals and keep our city on the path to recovery.”
Joint Finance lead Councillor David Gibson added:
“We have strained every sinew to return a balanced budget this year and protect the city from the worst of cuts. There can be no doubt that almost every sector in society will be facing financial consequences of this pandemic.
“On top of this we have dedicated our efforts towards mitigating the negative effects of suggested savings, as there is no denying that cuts and rising fees have an impact.
“While the government has proposed using council tax to fund adult social care, our council tax reduction proposals mean that for those on low incomes, council tax bills should in fact reduce.
“Where there are plans for increased parking charges including Controlled Parking Zone (CPZ) charges, local residents on universal credit and council tax support will be exempt from CPZ increases. Those who can afford to pay more will pay a bit more. Standard CPZ charges will increase by 29p a week on top of last year’s increases, for example.
“We are also looking ahead to prevent the worst of challenges still to come. Our environment and our outdoor spaces have played a key role in this pandemic and in our health, so we have included investment to improve our environment and tackle the climate emergency, including through a dedicated investment in warmer homes to bring down fuel poverty and tackle high energy bills.
“We have pushed ahead with plans to house more rough sleepers and provide proper move on accommodation so that we combat rising homelessness. We are on course to achieve over 150 additional council homes this year – double last year’s total. We are also focusing on community wealth building, to increase resources available to local residents.
“While some councils have gone bankrupt, we have been able to find ways to keep investing in our city, so we can weather the storms ahead. By doing what we can to invest in public goods such as housing and warmer homes we are also sustaining and creating jobs when they are most needed at a time of economic crisis for our city. We continue to consult with organisations across the city on our plans. We know this year will be difficult so we welcome comments on the proposals in the coming days, so we can further strengthen the city’s budget.”