Lib Dems and Labour offer ‘no solutions’ to Council’s budget challenge – only higher taxes on residents

Liberal Democrat and Labour councillors have been criticised for once again offering no solutions to the financial challenge facing Bath and North East Somerset Council – only higher taxes on hard-working residents.

At the Council’s budget meeting on Tuesday, 13th February, neither Labour nor Liberal Democrat Councillors put forward any alternative ideas for ways in which the Council can save money and balance its budget.

The only proposal put forward by Liberal Democrat Councillors, and backed by Labour Councillors, was for a higher Council Tax rise on B&NES residents.  This comes on top of the Lib Dems nationally arguing for an extra 1% on Income Tax.

Labour Councillors put forward no alternative budget proposals of their own during the meeting.

Cllr Paul Myers, Chair of B&NES Conservative Group, said:

“It’s clear that Lib Dem and Labour Councillors offer no solutions to the challenges we face – only higher taxes on hard-working residents.

“Neither Labour nor Lib Dem councillors put forward any ideas for how the Council can save money to protect services.

“Their only proposal was for higher taxes on residents, including those on the lowest pay, at a time when household budgets are already squeezed.

“Yet whilst pushing for a bigger Council Tax rise, Lib Dem and Labour councillors voted against millions of pounds worth of management and efficiency savings, making their criticism of the budget ring rather hollow.

“This would simply mean hard-pressed residents paying more, whilst failing to deal with the fundamental long-term challenges facing the Council.

“It’s no surprise that the highest Council Tax rises ever seen in B&NES were when the Lib Dems were in charge locally and Labour were in government nationally.

“Residents also won’t forget that it was the Lib Dems who tried to withdraw funding from the majority of our Children’s Centres, axe the Mobile Library and close public toilets when they ran the Council.”

Councillor Myers added:

“In contrast, Conservative Councillors have produced a budget which protects the majority of front-line services, with increased investment in social care, transport and housing, whilst at the same time setting out a clear plan to make the Council self-sustainable in the years ahead.”

Commenting on the Lib Dems’ amendment on Children’s Services, Councillor Paul May, the Council’s Cabinet Member for Children & Young People, said:

“We are putting record levels of funding into Children’s Services this year, with an increase of £3.1 million in the Children’s Service budget.

“On top of this, B&NES schools are receiving an extra £3.7 million this year through the National Funding Formula, one of the best funding settlements in the country. As a result, every school will see their budget increase, with schools serving the most deprived communities continuing to receive significant additional funding.

“Whilst we do need to make savings in our youth budget, we are seeking to do this in a way that minimises the impact on service delivery.  This includes looking at options such as a Staff Mutual and partnerships with communities and parishes. Council staff have already won national funding to look at these ideas in more detail.  By their own admission, the Lib Dem proposals would only delay these savings, not prevent them, and could derail the work that is already underway.

“Once again, the Lib Dems are taking a short-term approach and offering no solutions, whilst Conservatives are making sure our services are sustainable for the long-term.”