Westminster Tories have called an extraordinary Budget Council meeting to approve their plans for the 2018/19 budget. This comes despite many of their proposals not being ready for public scrutiny and with no clarity about upcoming Government funding decisions or on the level of Council Tax.
At the meeting tonight (Wednesday 8th November) the Tories are proposing a further £37.697 million (gross) in ‘savings’ (a net figure of £30.8m in cuts and required new revenue streams, with some money already identified). This comes after three previous years in which £130 million in cuts have already come out of the Council’s budget, cutting many services to the bone.
Labour have proposed two amendments that set out a better alternative for the council. Our first amendment sets out only a fraction of the new savings and reallocation of resources that would be possible were Labour to take charge of the council but these proposals, fully costed by the Council’s own finance team, show the priorities Labour want the council to focus on.
Labour are calling for funding to reinstate council support to Westminster’s Youth Clubs, though ongoing support to fund staff members and a one-off grant to the Young Westminster Foundation. We demand more support for our Children’s Centres, for children’s stay and play sessions and for targeted outreach to vulnerable families. While Labour is again urging the council to invest more in adaptive technology to support the elderly and vulnerable to live independent lives, a move that also saves the council money.
In this amendment Labour sets out alternative ways to protect vital support to Westminster’s Rough Sleepers through reducing Tory cuts to outreach services and developing a new social impact bond to address the most important challenges facing people on our streets. Labour would also protect important Health Check services being provided in less well-off parts of our city.
Labour is offering a cost effective way to support small businesses to comply with the London Living Wage by offering 500 independent firms a year who employ up to 30 people between a £250 and £500 business rate discount when they become accredited with the Living Wage Foundation.
Labour would also ensure the council continues to inform residents about planning and licensing applications by continuing to send written notices.
Labour’s second amendment seeks to remind Westminster Conservatives about their broken promise to introduce an emissions based resident parking charge scheme to help tackle the vital issue of air pollution in Westminster. Any policy Labour would seek to implement if in power would be more nuanced and detailed than proposed tonight in order to only target the most polluting vehicles. However this simple model shows the Tories how a reformed parking charge system could work on a revenue neutral basis, so that a modest increase paid by diesel and higher polluting petrol vehicles could cut costs for less polluting cars- by £58 for lower emission vehicles in this simplified scheme.
Whatever happens tonight Labour will continue to fight for a fairer Westminster that works for the many not the few.
In point (i), after “approved”, add “with the following amendments in Schedule 4:
£39,000 Private Health Care
£758,000 Temporary and Agency Staff
£202,000 Westminster Reporter
£51,000 Members’ allowances, to delete payments to deputy Cabinet Members
£40,000 Chief of Staff
£40,000 Policy, Performance and Communications
£100,000 Lord Mayor’s Department
£15,000 Forecast saving from TA Purchase
Deletion of savings items
£100,000 Planning and public realm – Electronic consultation
£65,000 Public Protection and Licensing – Electronic consultation
Additional growth items
£200,000 Children, Families and Young People: Youth Clubs (to restore at least one centrally funded post in a number of youth clubs spread across the city)
£200,000 Children, Families and Young People: Early Help (to restore stay and play options and support Children’s Centres)
£300,000 Public Protection and Licensing: City Management (restricting budget savings on the ‘Better Working in our Neighbourhoods’ programme to £600,000, in order to support street based services)
£308,500 Housing: Rough Sleeping (to protect outreach and support services)
£50,000 Adult Social Services and Public Health: To support the Health Trainer Service to continue to provide community health checks”
£43,000 City Treasurer: Scheme to promote London Living Wage Accreditation for 500 Small businesses (under 30 staff)
In point (v), after monies, delete all and add: “to long-term investment spending for the benefit of Westminster residents, with a provisional allocation of:
£600,000 to the Young Westminster Foundation for matched funding
£750,000 to create a Westminster Rough Sleepers Social Impact Bond
£750,000 for Temporary Accommodation
£882,000 for Adaptations and Transformations for Adult Social Care.”
In point (ii), at end add “together with an additional consultation on an emissions based parking charge scheme, whereby the annual resident parking charges for diesel cars and petrol-engine cars above 2,500 cc would rise to £200. The funding raised would be utilised to reduce resident parking charges for petrol cars between 1250-2500 cc to reduce to £87 and petrol cars with engines smaller than 1200 cc to £45.”