Westminster Labour unveils budget to tackle Cost of Living crisis and improve front-line services

Labour’s Westminster Councillors have unveiled a budget to tackle the Cost of Living crisis and improve front-line services. Labour’s budget will be voted on at the Council meeting on 5th March.

Labour will cut out over £4 million of waste at City Hall and redirect the extra money to helping residents tackle the ‘cost of living’ crisis. Labour’s budget for 2014/15 will;

• Freeze the Council Tax
• Reduce the proposed 4.5% Council rents rise to no higher than inflation – 1.9%
• Limit the rise in school meals and sports and leisure charges to no more than inflation
• Keeping the cost of a Residents’ Parking permit linked to inflation

Labour will;

• Save £3 million a year by cutting the amount spent on temporary agency staff
• Save £1 million a year by cutting the Council’s public relations budget, including scrapping the ‘Westminster Reporter’
• Save £74,000 a year by axing payments to Deputy Cabinet Members and Vice-chairmen of Policy and Scrutiny committees
• Save £30,000 a year by cutting the amount paid to members of Westminster Scrutiny Commission
• Save £20,000 a year by cutting the amount spent by the Lord Mayor on hospitality

In addition, Labour will;

• Cut the cost of back-office services by working with other boroughs to share services – computers, legal, HR, payroll
• Nominate a Councillor to act as ‘Waste Cutting Czar’ to scrutinise all new Council appointments and new expenditure proposals
• Increase the Council Tax to 150% on long-term empty homes to get more empty homes back into use
• Press for more Council Tax ‘bands’ at the higher end so that those who are able to pay more towards Council services can do so

Labour proposes to re-invest £4,092,000 of savings on the following front-line items:

• £750,000 on supporting local Sure Start Children’s Centres so young children and their families have the best start in life
• £750,000 on introducing more after school and school holiday activities for teenagers, particularly new sports coaching in schools and in the community.
• £750,000 on a more caring, ‘wrap-around’ provision for adult social services to help older people to sort out problems, discuss concerns with and provide ‘real care’.
• £400,000 on additional work with vulnerable teenagers through additional specialist youth workers and additional diversionary activities.
• £992,000 on the London Living Wage to be paid to staff working for Council contractors
• £100,000 on increased street sweeping
• £100,000 on repairing pot holes quicker,
• £100,000 on tackling noise and air pollution
• £100,000 on more recycling points, making it easier for residents and businesses to recycle
• £50,000 on consultation with residents on introducing 20mph speed limits on residential roads

Councillor Paul Dimoldenberg, Leader of the Labour Group; said;

“We support a Council Tax freeze. Low and middle income Westminster residents have been hit hard enough by a Conservative Government and Conservative Council without piling on more pressure. We have identified over £4 million of City Hall waste and we will use this money to re-invest in front line services. These proposals would offer hope and deliver real improvements to the quality of life of Westminster residents.”

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