Following the final local government financial settlement and feedback from our draft proposals, we are pleased to now release our final budget proposals to Cadlerdale Council.
Liberal Democrat Budget Proposals for Calderdale Council 2018/19 – 2020/21
As Liberal Democrats we are keen to explore innovative ways of running and delivering local services. It is, for this reason, we are proposing a host of innovative new income sources. Picture a brighter future, a future in which the Council utilises technology, revitalises grass-roots democracy, and adopts new ways of working to protect the front line services that you rely on.
It should be said that these budget proposals have been produced in dark times and against a challenging economic backdrop of cuts and uncertainty over Brexit.
Reductions in the level of government funding for local authorities have been excessive, have gone on for too long and show no signs of ending. Additionally, councils now face uncertainty regarding the future of the Business Rates Retention Scheme and the promised Fair Funding Review. While these do not significantly affect this Council’s budget for the coming financial year, they will have an effect before the end of the three-year period covered by these proposals. Calderdale Council, therefore, needs to consider the local effects of these national changes very carefully, even though its capacity and ability to act have been considerably reduced.
The increasing demand for, and expectations of, local services – especially those for children and the elderly – add further challenges for this Council, but these are challenges that cannot be shirked.
By increasing the referendum threshold to a 3% rise in Council Tax, the government has clearly signalled a further change in the balance of funding for local authorities away from nationally-raised funds and towards the local taxpayer. This shift from progressive Income Tax to regressive Council Tax is to be regretted, but is accepted in these budget proposals.
We also want to reform how the Council is run. By scrapping the cabinet system introduced by Tony Blair’s New Labour Government and reverting to the Committee system of governance we could cut the number of Councillors in receipt of Special Responsibility Allowances. By empowering all Councillors to make decisions in committees we would revitalise our local democracy and save money.
This budget, then, sets out proposals that will:
- Protect the most vulnerable with extra funding to help the homeless;
- Provide additional funding the winter gritting service;
- Provide additional funding for highway maintenance;
- Clean our streets with extra funding for Safer, Cleaner, Greener teams;
- Create a budget for repairing or replacing play equipment in our parks;
- Provide additional funding to support projects for young people;
- Introduce a CCTV camera in West Vale to monitor traffic and tackle anti-social behaviour;
- Fund two additional traffic calming schemes;
- Continue the emergency living support grant, and
- Fund a Fire Safety Officer to implement lessons learnt from the Grenfell Tower fire.
To achieve this we propose that the Council should:
- Introduce two days unpaid annual leave for Council staff;
- Outsource and/or collaborate on the delivery of Back Office Services;
- Reduce opening hours in Hub and Spoke Libraries by 30%;
- Move to a Committee System of local governance and reduce the number of councillors receiving an additional allowance;
- Introduce a local lottery scheme;
- Start to raise funds for community projects via crowdfunding;
- Start investing some of the Council’s funds into commercial property;
- Increase charges for bereavement services, and
- Offer more commercial services to raise revenue.
We commend this budget to the Council. It balances not just in a strict financial sense, but also in the way it provides additional funding for those services that are valued by local residents while minimising reductions in other areas of service provision.