At last night’s full council budget meeting (catch up with our live coverage), nearly two hours of debate took place before the chamber voted on the proposed budgets.
The Conservative-UKIP-IMG Alliance budget received the most votes, 18 for and 16 against, but not before the alternative budgets were presented and debated.
For those who weren’t in the public gallery, all group leaders have shared their full speeches with OnTheWight, which can be found below in the order they were read out.
It was notable that Labour’s Cllr Lumley said the speech Island Independent leader, Cllr Baker-Smith’s speech, was one of the best he’s heard in his entire time on the council and it received a round of applause from some members in the chamber, as well as in the public gallery.
Leader of the Isle of Wight council, Dave Stewart
Chairman, thank you allowing me to address the budget report I have proposed and in the next five minutes or so I will provide some background to this report and highlight key areas for members to consider
It has certainly been a busy five weeks for this new caretaker administration. Let us all remember we had just days to get to grips with the financial situation our independent colleagues left this Island in when they decided to resign in January without warning, leaving it in the lurch.
But let’s not go over old ground now, suffice it to say, I believe Island voters will give their opinion on what they think of these actions in just a few weeks’ time.
Over the next few minutes, I will set out the broad approach we have taken, cross-party and for the good of the Island, to deliver a legal budget that balances the books, safeguards key services and allows room for reserves to be kept to deal with issues or problems that arise.
This is a budget that offers sorely missed leadership and shows we can live within our means. It is a budget that also shows ambition for this Island by putting in place a financial strategy going forward that will do much to encourage economic growth in the years to come.
Interestingly, it is also a budget the independents under the then leadership of Councillor Bacon, will broadly recognise as they, to give them some credit, did a lot of work on it before they quit without warning and without any handover on the financial position we were left with.
I think it is important now that I mention we had only ten days to come up with a budget that works and I thank everyone for their hard work, both executive members and the council’s officers.
Council tax increase
The headline is the proposed 4.99% council tax increase, which we think is necessary to meet the needs of the authority and deliver what the people of this Island expect of this council. It is certainly not excessive. It is a rise that allows us to pay for social care on this Island, so vulnerable people can continue to be looked after. It also allows the council to move forward in a professional way with long term objectives.
To those who used to run this council, I say we have got on with it for the good of this Island; we got on with it in a professional way and we got on with it to allow vital services to continue and have a sustainable future, you did not.
So Independents and others might disagree with a rate rise of 4.99% but 3% of this increase will be spent on Adult Social Care and the other 1.99% will be a general rate increase, and it will help fill the black hole in the reserves they spent over the years because they didn’t have a financial plan other than to blame someone else.
To put this increase into pounds and pence, it equates to a £1.19 per week increase or just under £62 per year for a Band C property on this Island, so it is workable and proportionate.
Of course, we would have liked to implement no rise because we recognise that hard working people on this Island need to keep as much of their money as they can, but it is necessary.
Medium Term Financial Strategy
Our budget proposals support the council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy, known as the MTFS, which was developed with professional financial advice and support from officers and approved by full council, including the Independents, in October last year.
Despite the size of the budget deficit over a 3-year period of £22 million it is our view it’s possible to maintain and deliver the savings requirements, but only if we increase council tax by 4.99%.
Of course, the opposition will be unhappy with our budget, but it is a fact our budget proposals are broadly in line with the outcome of a budget consultation with residents and stakeholders, arranged when the Independents were in control.
A lawful budget
The situation is further fuelled by past statements by the then leader Councillor Bacon, that led to visits to government for more funding on the basis this council could not set a lawful budget this year.
In January 2016, he wrote to the Island’s MP stating, and I quote:
“the council faces a position where we are unlikely to have sufficient resources to meet our statutory obligations as a unitary authority”
He went on to state to the BBC, and I quote:
“I cannot see any way the council can set a lawful, balanced budget for 2017 / 18 based on current planned funding allocation from Government”
Well that all very well, but if you are seeking to negotiate further funding from Government – and let’s face it, we would all like more money – this must be based on true and accurate information. So, with those quotes in mind, our MP and Government have been misled – bearing in mind we managed to set a lawful and balanced budget within 10 days of coming into office.
Yet here we are today presented not only with one lawful budget proposal, but also two alternative budget proposals – all of which are lawful – albeit the alternatives for reasons to be highlighted later – are in the opinion of our finance officer, not financially prudent.
In addition, the need to produce alternative budgets would not have been necessary if members across the chamber had taken up my offer to work jointly to address the situation.
Develop a capital programme
In preparing our budget proposals, in addition to the revenue savings, we have also had to consider and make capital savings, and develop a capital programme for a three-year period which provides some vital resilience for the council. As I have mentioned, quite a bit of this money has been spent by the independents for no good financial reason we can see and it needs to be reinstated.
This means we must make some savings in a number of areas – if we are the administration post the May elections, we will revisit these decisions.
But this does not mean we leave these services behind, because we are actively looking at delivering them differently to save money. Having to make savings is always a challenge, and everyone recognises these are difficult decisions that we do not take lightly, but we take them to balance the budget.
Not ‘Tory-led cuts’
I must, at this point stress, these are not ‘Tory-led cuts’ but this is cross party administration acting in a professional way, with integrity, to deliver a workable and legal budget in the space of around ten days from the mess left by the previous administration – a previous administration who were effectively doing nothing to balance the books because they spent all their energies on bickering with each other when they should have been working for the people of the Isle of Wight.
So, to summarise, we have provided a legal and balanced budget, which meets the intended outcomes of the Medium Term Financial Strategy agreed by full council in October. The budget takes full advantage of the council tax opportunity to preserve our Adult Social Care Services and build this into our financial base, while, at the same time, enabling us to get our Island’s economic regeneration up and running for future sustainability.
When the new administration takes over in May they will have the opportunity to review and adjust finances within the budget framework we propose
I thank all those involved in preparing this budget and propose it formally to full council.
Deputy Leader Stuart Hutchinson
This debate will be the third opportunity Members will have had to comment on the content of this budget. Firstly at Scrutiny Committee on 7th February, then at Budget Executive meeting on 9th and of course, this evening. That’s longer than the new Executive had to actually put it together.
As the Leader has commented, a significant feature has been the need to find the level of savings required in the forthcoming year. As important are the choices as to how that should be done. Most critically, to reduce the impact of savings, we believe it to be necessary to take full advantage of the government’s authority to raise a 3% tax in order to help pay for the increasing costs of Social Care. Social care now consumes the lion’s share of our budget, and because of the Island’s changing demography, that demand is increasing in the order of a couple of million pounds each year. A 3% tax broadly matches that demand.
Savings in social care
You will note that there are also savings also to be found from that service. It is such a large element of our expenditure that there will be significant efficiencies available from doing things differently.
We know from the work done last year by the Scrutiny Task and Finish group that we can achieve better performance without compromising delivery of support against assessed need. It will be for the administration after 4th May to carry that forward.
We also know that the changing demography of the Island is such that we have 50% more residents over the age of 65 than the UK average, and that imbalance carries through to the over 80s where costs can increase substantially. To meet demand, and to allow the greatest flexibility within budget we consider that the 3% addition is absolutely essential.
Three of every four councils in England have also found this to be necessary even those with fewer Social Care pressures than ourselves.
Showing the Government we need it
There is also the important point that if we choose to say that we do not need that increase, that we can manage without, then despite all efforts from those in the last administration, this interim administration and the future administration post May, the government will not be persuaded that we do need a greater level of financial support.
Efforts from everyone to press that argument, including the sterling work done by County Press in their Fight for the Wight campaign, will have been to no avail.
Medium Term Financial Strategy
Within the budget envelope we have achieved a balance by sharing reductions across services, by following the Medium Term Financial Strategy set almost unanimously by Council last Autumn, by providing finance where it leverages additional funding from other providers, and by funding invest-to-save initiatives.
In this latter context, there has been criticism that we have allocated finance for building maintenance and for replacement of capital equipment. It is common sense to make sure that money is provided for that – it’s akin to running a hospital; if you spend all the money on patient treatment but don’t mend the roof or replace equipment you soon find that you can’t treat patients at all.
What we have done within this expenditure element is to ensure that better use of premises will result in future savings from rent and repairs. At least a million £s will be saved in this way over the next few years.
Capital spent wisely
We have also ensured that capital is spent wisely and carefully over a number of years on a range of initiatives. We are fortunate in that we have capital sufficient to do this, largely resulting from the engineered income from an initiative of the previous Conservative administration.
But when it’s gone, it’s gone, and we shall then only have capital from any future property disposals or from prudential borrowing, where we have to have sufficient revenue capacity to cover the cost of borrowing and repayment – so not easy.
I will make a brief comment on the two alternative budgets we are also looking at tonight. One looks rather like a populist rather than a prudent budget, it leaves a £3.9M hole in finances with the need for the incoming administration to find in 2018, not £7.5M but £11.3M, which will require draconian cuts to achieve and therefore carries a health warning from our Treasurer; and the other which is based upon the Alliance budget, contains several proposals which I believe are worth pursuing, but which we cannot and should not attempt to cherry pick this evening.
I do find that within that proposal, raising the Social care income by 1% less, so saving each household just a few pence each week, but depriving other services of essential income by passporting the whole 3% by taking an additional 1% from them, somewhat illogical. It also assumes a diminished level of risk, which is a value judgement I don’t subscribe to. I believe financial risks are increasing not diminishing.
Re-exam areas of savings
Finally, I will repeat what the Leader has said before and what I have supported in public on several occasions, that an incoming administration, whether Conservative or Alliance, will commit to carefully re-examining those areas of saving, which give rise to most concern and will reinstate them subject to equivalent savings being found elsewhere.
Members, I commend this budget to you.
UKIP leader, Daryll Pitcher
This budget represents the best deal currently possible in overall terms that is available to this Council. It will be up to the new administration elected in May to see through the plans and strategies contained within and I am sure that they will use the room available to them to place slightly different emphasis on certain aspects.
A legal budget
What is key and most important to the UKIP Group is that this budget is a legal one. Our top priority when we entered into the Tri-party alliance was to set a legal budget and save this council. We were told by the previous Leader that setting this budget was not possible and yet is has been done. We were led to believe that the Independents were set against introducing the cuts necessary to balance the books and yet today they are proposing to not take the full 3% Adult Social Care increase.
Labour are proposing to not take any of it. In our view this sends the wrong signals to Government and puts at risk vital services. I am glad that this caretaker Administration and given care of our elderly the high priority they deserve.
Investment in the Island’s economy
It has been said many times by most in this chamber that we do not like cutting services. That is certainly true of UKIP. We also recognize that investment in the Island’s economy is a key driver for the future. With things such as changes to local retention of Business Rates on the horizon we have to be ready to meet all the challenges we face. Growing the economy in our view should focus on providing good quality jobs and increasing the skills base of the Island.
UKIP have always argued for this in every Budget debate since joining this Council. This is why we are pleased that money has been allocated in the Capital program for the technology park at East Cowes. For UKIP this kind of investment was a red line as the outcomes represent the way in which we see the Island developing in the future. On a similar note I am pleased that we now have in post a Regeneration team who have started to look at the issues and opportunities which we identified several years ago.
Keeping the Isle of Wight Council sailing
Not everything in the garden is rosy and it would be foolish to suggest that it is. However our aim of keeping the Isle of Wight Council sailing along rather than abandoning ship at the first sign of bad weather has been achieved.
There is a budget and there is a Council. In May it will be down to the people of the Isle of Wight to elect a new Council. Their choice will be a stark one between those of us who can genuinely work with others and get things done for the good of the Island and those who can’t or won’t or who are incapable of taking serious decisions.
IMG’s Cllr Julie Jones-Evans
Cllr Jones Evans isn’t able to get her speech to us until Monday. We’ll update the article once she sends it over.
Island Independent leader, Cllr Julia Baker-Smith
In 2013 the Island Independent’s took over a broken council. A council broken by years of cuts and austerity, that no longer functioned as it should. The effects of those cuts were clear.
- 11 schools were failing and children’s services were in a dangerously poor position. The government had stepped in as things had become so bad.
- Job losses were rife, and the council didn’t have the capacity or the staff to rebuild and create new ways of working.
- Adult social care was struggling and the organisation did not have the resilience to survive the barrage of financial cuts, and nor did the Island’s economy with investor confidence low the Island struggled to attract business, growth and jobs.
In the last four years we have set this Council, and this Island up to succeed
By building strong a and effective relationship with Hampshire children’s services, and now just 4 years on, schools across the Island are thriving and constantly improving. From 13 schools that required improvement in 2013, now we have just one. But we acknowledge that one is too many, and we will continue to assist schools in their improvement journey and continue to strive to create a thriving education system and build on the aspirations of our young people. Line 55 in appendix C demonstrates the improved health of our school system as less intervention is now required. Our children are now achieving educational results in line with the rest of the nation and they are safe.
We have set the Island up to succeed
By Developing a framework for regeneration, inward investment, skills development, and job creation.
Employing a strong and capable regeneration team, that sets the Island up for growth. We have worked closely with the chamber of commerce and business community who have regained confidence in the Island as a place to do business and invest in people.
We have set the Island up to succeed
By Making housing a key corporate priority and putting the building blocks in place for a sustainable and measured programme of investment in affordable homes, in the right places, for the right people.
We have set the Island up to succeed
By developing an innovative approach to youth provision that is targeted and safeguarded opportunities for providers to gain alternative funding streams that the council would not have had access to.
We have set the Island up to succeed
By Stabilising staffing arrangements in the council, keeping jobs for Island people, supporting our unions and building a strong team of people that will take this council forward, from a position that is now good, to being great in coming years. I would like to take this opportunity to thank our hardworking staff, who put in 110% and never get the public thanks they deserve.
We have set the Island up to succeed
By Working to fix the relationships with town and parish councils that had been left broken in 2013, and working closely with them to save and deliver services in new and innovative ways.
We have set the Island up to succeed
By Investing in adult social care, by working towards truly integrated health and social care and by challenging the government’s STP plans in order to safeguard health services on the Isle of Wight.
We have set the Island up to succeed
By Investing in infrastructure, securing 3 million pounds from the Solent local enterprise partnership to replace the floating bridge that could have otherwise been lost , we have supported the development of the infrastructure task force, and we have invested in solar energy to support the long term energy infrastructure for future generations.
The administration’s budget threatens to put much of this ground work at risk, with cuts to social care that go too deep, too quickly, and threaten to swamp an unprepared provider market.
Ours would give the market time to adjust, and provide time for proper, meaningful negotiations to be had with the providers and small business’ that care for our Island’s elderly and disabled.
The level of risk within the social care budget is unacceptable…….a million pounds…..this is a million pound margin for error this council cannot afford to risk.
The administration’s budget threatens to charge people, who can ill afford it, to replace their bins when they become damaged, stolen, or end up in the back of a bin lorry as so many of the black inserts do.
Ours would scrap that fee and acknowledges that not only do mistakes sometimes happen, but that this policy could lead to fly tipping and the deterioration of areas where people simply can’t afford to spend such a large proportion of their income on a replacement bin.
The administration’s budget threatens to not only reduce the number of days Lynnbottom tip and afton marsh are open, but also threatens to reduce the opening hours down to 9am to 4pm in winter months, making it nigh on impossible for working people to get there.
Ours would keep the opening hours as they are, supporting hardworking people, and acknowledging that common sense must come into council decisions.
The administration’s budget threatens to increase floating bridge charges to £1.50 for pedestrians, again hitting hardworking people in their pockets, increasing the cost just to walk to work, acroos a recognised highway and penalising parents taking young children to school.
Ours would not only freeze charges, but would also provide a pass for parents taking young children to school, encouraging healthy routes to school and promoting walking and cycling to our youngest residents.
The administration’s budget would cut staff in planning at a time when we are trying to grow our economy and regenerate.
Ours would see an additional planning enforcement officer to support the town and parish councils across the Island and ensure that the right development happens in the right places and our Natural and built environment is protected.
Ours would provide and additional planning development control officer to provide the capacity needed to deal with the regeneration plans. You cant have regeneration without the staff to deliver it. You cant grow an economy if you keep cutting jobs.
The administration’s budget threatens to cut resources to childrens centres. It is high risk, as they do not yet know if the children’s centres could continue with that level of funding taken from their budget.
Ours gives the children’s centres time to look at how they might be able to make future savings without compromising their excellent service relied on by so many families.
The administration threatens to cut short breaks fun days for disabled children and their families, who, too often become isolated because of their disabilities and rely on opportunities such as this to meet other people in their position and get support.
Ours would support and retain these fun days, that are so vital to the wellbeing of our most disadvantaged young people and their families.
The administrations budget threatens to cut half the funding to the youth offer, who provide a fantastic service to our young people, that not only gives them activities and builds their self esteem, but also prevents them from requiring more in depth and expensive intervention down the line.
Ours would protect this funding. The importance of preventative services, the impact they make, and the savings they produce down the line cannot be, and must not be under-estimated.
The administration propose an almost 5% rise in council tax. We have taken a sensible middle ground approach of 3.99%. We feel that this as low as we can reasonably and sensibly go without impacting too greatly on future years.
Our approach takes full advantage of the ability to port as much money as possible to adult social care and protect elderly and disabled people, while ensuring that the savings profile in future years is as smooth as possible. While there would be a slight increase next year in the savings required, this buys the council time to continue negotiations with government, who promised to recognise our unique circumstances. It buys us time to bear the fruit of the income generating strategies the independent administration put in place.
Some of our recommendations
The Island Independents budget makes a number of recommendations for further work, to build on the improvements we have already made over the last four years.
- We will investigate further savings that can be found through the highways PFI. When the PFI deal was done in 2012 interest rates were high and the deal could have been better. Interest rates are at almost an all time low, now is the time to refinance and save Islanders money.
- We will find outside the box ways to fund our leisure centres and make our sports and leisure facilities on the Island some of the best in the country. Rather than relying on council tax payers we should, and will look to agencies such as sport England when they come to the Island in just a few weeks upon Cllr Stephens invite.
- We look to ensure that where the council can deliver social care facilities in a more efficient and cost effective ways than the private sector that we will do so, and where we cant, we will ensure that we are supporting schemes that promote independence and are cost effective.
- We will continue to develop new and innovative ways to deliver low cost, high quality, and energy efficient market, affordable and social housing in the right places, for the right people.
- We will continue to promote and develop employment opportunities, and employment spaces and encourage inward investment and job creation.
- We will investigate the options to bring Island blue light services together under one roof, on council owned land, freeing up valuable town centre property for redevelopment and generating income that the council can use to reduce cuts in future years.
This budget decision tonight doesn’t need to be about cuts, it can be about growth and opportunity. It can be about protecting our most vulnerable residents, it can be about protecting our hard working Islanders where they need it, in their pockets. This budget can be one of caring and compassion, or one of cuts and underfunding.
All cllrs has same time to prepare budgets
I acknowledge that you say you have had just a few weeks to work on this budget, but in reality you have had as long as we did in administration to look at the figures available to all members and work through common sense solutions.
If you chose to sit on your hands and wait for the Independent administration to do the work for you then that is your choice. BUT, now I am giving you a sound, legal and balanced alternative that buys Islanders more time to resist central government austerity.
I would urge you to vote for this caring, compassionate and common sense amendment. But ultimately, that decision is for you and your conscience.
Labour leader, Cllr Geoff Lumley
Tonight the Labour Group, together with our good friend Cllr Barry, offers Members a real alternative Budget proposal. And a choice for Islanders to reflect upon at the impending elections on May 4th.
The choice we offer is that:
- Between the new administration’s high tax, negative, heavy-handed and unimaginative proposals, which slash £7.5m off services, increase Council Tax by 5% – way about wage and price inflation – and burns nearly all of the windfall Asda receipt – that only one year ago they nearly all agreed should be spent on capital projects that were imaginative and different.
- Or between the previous administration’s well-meaning alternative, that is still a high tax 4% increase, that seeks to protect some services through using 2% of the Adult Social Care precept allowed by Government rather than the full 3%, and by using a little of the Asda receipt.
- And a positive choice from Labour and Cllr Barry to protect services to the value of £1.7m (particularly to the most vulnerable in our society), and to increase Council Tax by just under 2%, by refusing to cover for the Government’s failure to properly fund Adult Social Care – all funded by the use of £3m from the windfall Asda receipt (as suggested by the Secretary of State last June) and a small part of so-called ‘earmarked reserves’ that we do not accept as being earmarked.
All of this still leaving open the possibility of a review of the remaining £14m of the proposed capital spend of the Asda receipt after May 4th, should an administration not built on pro-austerity and right-wing policies – like the current one – be elected. One that is anti-austerity and pro-public services.
Legal budget proposal
Our proposal has been assessed as entirely legal by the Council’s Head of Legal services. I will now deal with the assessment of the Director of Finance/Section 151 Officer that our proposal is ‘financially imprudent.’
Can I first thank Chris Ward and Kerry Hubbleday for assisting Cllr Barry and I over the last fortnight or so in preparing what is probably the most professional Budget amendment I have submitted to Budget Council in now 11 attempts out of 12 years, the last three of which were accepted.
Notwithstanding those thanks – yes Mr Ward, we accept that using the Asda capital receipt will mean that savings deferred from this year may still need to be made next year.
Windfall capital receipt
However, this Council is in the very fortunate position of having a windfall capital receipt of £17.5m that it would never have expected under normal circumstances. It is our strongly held view that this should be used to protect services to vulnerable adults rather than having to levy anything of the 3% Government permitted surcharge for Adult Social Care on the many hard-pressed, ‘just-about-managing’ households of the Isle of Wight.
We have identified a way of doing this through a technical, financial device that permits capital to be indirectly transferred into revenue. And it is approved by Mr Ward.
‘Just about managing’ households
This could be done again next year and the years after if an administration is elected in May – (preferably a Labour or Labour-influenced one – and we will be standing in more wards this time than in half a century) – if an administration is elected that is anti-austerity and committed to protecting residents from a potentially high Council Tax authority.
And let’s be honest here, the Local Council Tax Scheme that Mr Ward refers to as a safety net does NOT help those ‘just about managing’ households, holding down two or three zero hours jobs and struggling to put food on their families’ table
Protecting services for Islanders
Turning to the specifics of our proposals. Labour and Cllr Barry are seeking to protect a number of services that the Tory/Ukip administration is seeking to slash and burn:
(list from Press Release – see document at bottom of article )
They are listed at 5(a)(iii)
All to the tune of £1.7m. That together with our refusal to be forced into taking any of the ASC surcharge permission (which Reg will talk about further), means that we are short by £3.9m from a balanced Budget.
We balance the Budget by the technical transfer of just over of £3m from the Asda receipt (see 5(a)(ii) ), by taking £600k from earmarked reserves that we have doubts about (again see 5(a)(ii), and £250k of savings and income streams we have identified at 5(a)(i).
The taking of £3m of the Asda receipts means the loss of £3m from the proposed Capital Programme over the next three years, but we would stress that without the windfall of the Asda receipt NONE of these would have been in the programme unless the monies were added to the Council’s capital borrowing programme. And we probably have Cllr Barry to thank for this windfall, as he was instrumental in buying the Asda land for the Council in the first place when the then IW Council bailed out Newport Football Club in 2002.
And surely it is better to save Islanders from a 5% Council Tax increase than spending, for example, something like £1.75m on this and other Council buildings – as is in the administration’s proposed Capital Programme?
However, we have increased capital spending on Rights of Way by £100k in recognition of them being in many ways the blood stream of the Island.
I urge Members to look at our proposal very seriously and when doing so to reflect on what a 5% increase or a 4% increase will mean to those ‘just about managing’ households that the PM frequently refers to. What it will mean to their residents when they cast their votes next May, if they are seeking re-election.
Indy proposal falls at first hurdle
We recognise the IW Indy proposal is slightly less burdensome than the administrations. However, we oppose it because it fails at the first hurdle for us.
It is largely based on accepting the Government’s abdication of responsibility for dramatically increasing Adult Social Care costs and makes less allowance for other services than us And although they claim it smooths out savings in the future, there will only be £1m less extra to find than ours next year – see para (iii) in S151 Officer’s Comments.
We are entirely opposed to the administration’s tax-grabbing proposals. A 5% Council Tax increase that is unnecessary, whilst they slash services and waste the opportunity presented by the Asda windfall.
I urge you to support our proposal in the interests of ordinary folk struggling to make ends meet. The ‘just about managing’! Thanks for listening to me.
LibDem Cllr Reg Barry
We are all taxed during our working lives, and into retirement and even beyond by a large number of taxes imposed on us by central government. Income tax, Capital Gains Tax, National Insurance, Value Added Tax, Inheritance Tax, Stamp Duty, Death duty, Savings Tax, Land Fill Duty, Airline Duty, Fuel Duty (taxed and then vat on the tax), Cigarette Duty, Alcohol Duty, Insurance Premium Tax, Vehicle Licensing Duty, Excise Duty, BBC TV license I am sure there are more but if I were I to list them all I would run out of the allotted time.
The “Social Services Precept”
And now we are faced with another tax called “The Social Services Precept” passed down by Central Government for us to impose on the residents we represent. They are using local Government to solve their funding problems and the mess they have allowed the NHS to get into.
Why would you separate medical care from personal care? Give one service to a national institution and the other to local councils? Why provide one free at the point of need and charge for the other? Why increase the budget of one, but cut the budget of the other and then expect the council tax payer to plug the gap. Which it won’t?
This tax is estimated to raise £383million Nationwide taking into consideration the number of people Nationwide who need care and the pressure those people put on the NHS it is simply not enough to plug the gap.
Tax collector by proxy
Why is it so wrong for us and the Residents that are paying all those taxes to expect this Council to be adequately funded so that it can provide the services that would enable them to have a decent quality of life? Adequate services adequately funded, Social Services, Education, Libraries, Parks and Gardens, Beaches,Life guards, school crossing patrols and on it goes. Services that our Residents could enjoy in fact once did enjoy and were once a part of our Island Life. Why is that? Could it be that we just shrug our shoulders and bury our heads, and take the ‘what will be will be approach’.
Well I and others who will support this budget believe we should set a budget here tonight that will protect the services of our residents and send a message to this government that this Council deserves more than to be their tax collector by proxy.
This budget goes some way to doing both.
19.50 – added Cllr Stewart’s speech.
09.56 (24/2/) – added Cllr Hutchinson’s speech.