City of York Council’s Joint Administration have released their budget plans for 2018/19; protecting the Council’s frontline services and investing in adult social care, against significant Conservative Government cuts.
Today’s budget is the very first budget where the Council has seen its funding from the Conservative Government, the revenue support grant, reduced to £0. The disparity between funding and demand for services only continues to widen, as Conservative Government investment dwindles and demand for Council services increases.
In addition to the national cuts, the beginning of 2018 has highlighted the extra pressure placed on our Adult Social Care system; exacerbated by the current Winter crisis. As a result, many residents have had difficulties accessing crucial care services at the local level, needlessly passing the burden of demand onto our already busy hospitals.
York’s Liberal Democrat Councillors have worked tirelessly to make certain that the 2018/19 budget continues our ambitious £20 million roads and footways investment programme, whilst simultaneously providing the much needed cash injection in Adult Social Care.
Protection of frontline services has always been a key Liberal Democrat principle and this will be maintained in this year’s budget. Unlike previous Labour administrations, this budget will not waste resident’s money on needless vanity projects.
It is for this reason that a moderate 3.49% increase in Council Tax has been put forward for this year, which includes 1.5% from the Adult Social Care precept. Council Tax in itself is an unfair method of taxation that impacts on those least able to pay, however, with this moderate increase we can continue investing in crucial frontline services and safeguard vulnerable residents by addressing the Winter crisis.
This year, our key proposals include:
- Additional investment of £3 million in Adult Social Care, including more support for social workers, support with the Winter crisis and additional short-stay beds outside of hospital
- A £150,000 investment in improving the City’s drains over the next three years
- A £175,000 investment in Education Psychology to support specialist staff working with children with Special Education Needs
- A £3.3 million investment in a new Electric Bus Scheme, which will include new vehicles, charging points and the UK’s first Clean Air Zone
- An investment of £250,000 for Energy Efficiency projects, such as the inclusion of solar panels on major projects, so residents can save on energy bills.
- £500,000, over two years, to repair and modernise National Cycle Route 65, which is now up to 30 years old in some areas.
Cllr Andrew Waller, Liberal Democrat Interim Deputy Leader of the Council, said:
“There is no doubt, as a Council, we face exceptional financial challenges and as a direct result of Conservative Government cuts this is the first budget where absolutely nothing has been received from the Government’s revenue support grant. Nonetheless, as Liberal Democrats, we have worked with the situation that has been handed to us and made efforts to do right by residents.
“Today’s budget continues and builds on our previous commitment to protect frontline services and continue our ambitious £20 million roads and footways investment programme, whilst at the same time, using an additional £3 million to relieve pressure in York’s Adult Social Care system.”
Cllr Carol Runciman, Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Adult Social Care, added:
“Since the very beginning of 2018, the Winter pressures in the Adult Social Care system have dominated the headlines and it is clear for all to see, new investment is needed now. The Liberal Democrats are deeply concerned that many vulnerable residents may be put at risk to poor and underfunded services. Every resident should have comfort in mind that, should they need to, they can access quality care services in York.
“It is increasingly frustrating that, despite accepting the crisis facing adult social care, the Conservative Government has failed to act. After the public rightly rejected the disgraceful proposals for dementia tax, Whitehall has been silent on the issue, allowing Brexit to dominate the news agenda. This continues to pass the burden to residents in York.”
“With our budget which is released today, I am delighted that a £3 million cash injection will be provided by the Council. This will ensure crucial services can continue to operate and care for people in their own homes, preventing needless admissions to hospital and further pressurizing the positions of York’s hospitals.”