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Lib Dem councillors vote to inject fairness into South Gloucestershire Council’s budget

by southgloslibdems on 23 February, 2015

At South Gloucestershire’s Annual Budget meeting on Wednesday night Lib Dem councillors voted to freeze council tax, protect funding for the most vulnerable, and safeguard fly-tipping enforcement.  

Ruth Davis, leader of South Gloucestershire’s Lib Dem councillors said: “Local government faces another difficult year with reduced funding from central government meaning we have been forced to cut our own budget, once again. However, we have attempted to inject some fairness into the budget and I am very pleased that several Lib Dem priorities made it into the final budget – including the freezing of council tax for the fifth year running.

“There have been calls from some quarters to increase council tax this year; but we took the view that it is wrong to raise tax bills when many people are only just starting to get back on their feet after the economic downturn. Average wage rises are now starting to outstrip inflation for the first time in years. We felt that it would be unfair to immediately snatch this much-needed relief away in the form of council tax rise.”

“Another Lib Dem priority that made it into the budget was £37,500 to guarantee that recipients of the Independent Living Fund continue to receive their current level of support when the fund is discontinued by Government in June. This funding will continue until March 2016, allowing recipients to be assessed for future support and make adaptions before the new system kicks in. We also called for provision to continue the funding of Welfare Grants for a full year, at a cost of £307,000, and I am pleased that this recommendation received cross-party support.”

Ruth continued “We have also secured a one year continuation of funding for the Council’s Enviro-crime service, which deal with nuisance crimes like fly-tipping. We would have preferred this funding to have been an ongoing commitment but the other parties had different priorities.”

“A Tory proposal to spend £258,000 a year to cut Green Bin charges by £10 a year was rejected by the other parties on the basis that it was irresponsible and unaffordable at a time when we already have to find an extra £2.73million in savings from the Council’s waste budget. However, we did appreciate this clear admission from the Conservatives that their previous promises to completely scrap green bin charges were unaffordable.”

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