Labour’s alternative budget for Hertfordshire
Sharon Taylor, Labour County Councillor for Stevenage Bedwell, introducing Labour’s amendment to the Tory budget for the county for 2018/9, put the blame for the cuts squarely on the Tory government. “We recognise the impossible position the council has been placed in by its own government,” she said.
“The appalling treatment of local goverrnment in successive austerity-driven budgets will go down in history as the most unprecedented and concerted attack on localism and local services this country has ever seen. £16bn of cuts between 2010 and 2020.”
She drew attention to the predicted £5.8bn gap in adult care services funding and the rising demand for child protection, leading to a gap of £2bn or more by 2020.
So, Labour could only “seek to mitigate the worst impacts on our most vulnerable residents” and to show the importance of making this a “county of opportunity for all of our younger residents”.
So, Labour proposed a fully costed amendment to redeploy some of the money available – principally money being set aside for future use – to allow the Council to:
- Exempt those leaving care from council tax until age 25, as over 60 councils have already done.
- Allow councillors to use their Highways Locality budget to subsidise bus services (no additional cost for the council).
- Reverse the decision to close Cuffley Camp (see below).
- Reverse the proposal to cut the Youth Service and Youth Connexions budget.
- The Tory administration has just agreed to reconsider one element of their proposal to increase the charges for home care. Labour proposed withdrawing all the increases and conducting a full consultation (see below).
- The Tories have also agreed to withdraw for one year their proposal to cut the funding for the Savercard, which allows yooung people to access education and job opportunities, as well as the wealth of cultural opportunities in the county. Labour demonstrated how this funding could be kept in place at least until 2020/1.
The proposals were rejected by the Tory-dominated council, but show how Labour could make things better, even in the impossible situation created by the government. There is more on the increase in the county’s council tax precept here