Liberal Democrats Launch Alternative Council Budget
"A Budget to help the jobless, people in housing need and small businesses"
Hounslow Liberal Democrats have launched their alternative Council budget ahead of the Council tax-setting meeting on Tuesday 2 March. Group leader Cllr Dakers says the Conservative minority administration's budget will hit Social Care services, run the Council’s limited reserves down too rapidly and offer little hope for those seeking a job or easier access to improved housing. The Lib Dems also set out detailed plans for regenerating Gunnersbury Park and the local history museum. They want to resecure the Cranford Agreement through an Act of Parliament to prevent Heathrow expansion.
Cllr Andrew Dakers, Hounslow Liberal Democrat Group Leader, says: "The Conservative’s Budget proposals will hit some frontline services and would have a negative impact on local businesses. Labour’s local budget proposals seem likely to eat heavily into Council reserves or slow investment.”
“We will oppose the withdrawal of £100,000 from the Social Care budget. This will hit those most in need. This is why, after three years of broadly supporting a 0% increase in Council tax, we now believe a small 0.75% increase in Council tax is required and is the honest approach. That is just 16p each week for a Band D Council tax payer."
“The increase in street licensing charges would hit local small businesses at a time when many are struggling to survive. A hike in Pay and Display charges would also hurt them and make it harder for small businesses to compete with Tescos.”
NEW AREAS OF INVESTMENT
Support for “Real work, real jobs” programme to end benefits dependency.
Making housing allocation easier.
Restore the Cranford Agreement.
Support access to English in our schools.
Invest in Gunnersbury Park and local history museum.
WHERE WILL THE MONEY COME FROM?
The resources for the proposals can be provided by:
(1) Restructuring Civic Centre Top Brass. The appointment of a new Chief Executive is an opportunity to review the structure and pay grades at the top. Currently the top 28 posts cost £2.7 million. We believe this cost could be reduced by £150k in 2010/11.
(2) A reduced call on reserves. The Conservative proposal to take £2.4 million from the Council's reserves. The Lib Dems accept the need to call on reserves but believe it is possible reduce the amount called on to £2.25 million. They argue that greater caution is required and that every effort must be made to limit reducing the reserve.
(3) A small increase in Council Tax. The Lib Dems will propose a 0.75% rise in Council Tax. Andrew Dakers says: “This small increase would be well below the current level of inflation but would help to ensure that resources are available for services and investment that everyone wants the Council to deliver. The proposal would cost a Band D taxpayer just 16p extra each week.”
He adds that “It is a pity that only the Lib Dems on the Greater London Assembly called for a reduction in the London Precept paid to the Greater London Authority. Their proposal would have saved Band D Council Tax payers 19p per week. Taken together with our Hounslow proposals this would represent a reduction in tax for Londoners.”
February 25, 2010