1st Oct, 2020

Labour hits out at Conservative-led council's proposed budget which includes tax hike and job losses

Laura Kearns 14th Feb, 2020

LABOUR has hit out at the Conservative’s proposed county council budget which will see another inflation-busting tax hike and job losses.

Households face a 3.99 per cent increase in their bills if the Warwickshire County Council budget is given the green light on Tuesday (February 18). It is the equivalent of £1.10 a week for a Band D property.

The Tories say the budget aims to provide value for money while also ensuring the safety of residents.

But Labour claims despite the rise in tax the budget is ‘full of cuts’ and also paves the way for more in future.

This year’s budget will see cuts of more than £6million, rising to some £33million in five years.

The ruling Tories say this will come from ‘better procurement, improvements in efficiency, increased income and delivering reductions in demand’

But Labour believes the cuts will affect frontline services and the county’s most vulnerable.

There are also expected to be redundancies as the authority looks to save money. When asked how many staff could lose their jobs a council spokesman declined to comment until after Tuesday’s meeting.

Labour is proposing its own budget ahead of the upcoming meeting.

Deputy group leader Helen Adkins said: “Ours will be fair and balanced and will provide for the needs of the people of Warwickshire. It will have at its heart key initiatives to tackle climate change, more support for children with special educational needs and disabilities, and more support to schools in deficit.

“Furthermore, it sets to improve the health of Warwickshire people and provide initiatives to support vulnerable people within the community.”

The proposed Conservative budget would see half of the proposed 3.99 per cent rise ring fenced to pay for adult social care.

The budget also includes spending more than £8million in children’s social care – with nearly £4million to reduce demand for child social services and prepare youngsters for school.

Nearly £2million will help disabled children access community support, and the same amount will be spent on home to school transport.

Demand on services for elderly and vulnerable people will see £14million targeted to cope with winter pressures and integrating health and social care.

The budget also includes spending £7million supporting homelessness projects and initiatives for at-risk vulnerable people due to drug and alcohol abuse, gambling, mental health and male suicide.

A climate change fund will receive £4million and the same amount will be given to a venture to deliver commercial investment for the county.

A further £5million will also be pumped into improving the economy, including investing in 5G mobile technology.

A spokesman said: “Given current economic uncertainties remain we will continue to look for efficiencies to drive better value for money for our taxpayers.

“We will invest our resources to ensure Warwickshire’s communities and individuals are supported to be safe, healthy and independent and Warwickshire’s economy is vibrant and supported by the right jobs, training, skills and infrastructure.

“We will redouble our efforts to bring inward investment and private and public sector businesses into the county for the benefit of employment and prosperity of our residents and the future of their children.”

The county council takes the lion’s share of the total council tax bill at around 80 per cent. Warwickshire Police account for just over ten per cent, and the district, borough and parish councils the remainder.

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