Westminster Tories preparing to push through cruel cuts, while Labour stands up for young people

Westminster Council will try to use today’s budget meeting to push through over £45 million in cuts, due to a £33 million cut in Government grant, increasing costs and planning for future pressures. Despite years of cutting services under the last Conservative-led coalition Government the worst is still to come. Over the coming 3 years Westminster is having to prepare for a staggering £117m in cuts through to 2018/19.

Under this Tory Government and Council major cuts are planned in all departments and  it is services for those most in need that will suffer most. For example Tory plans for this year will see the closure of council funded play service places, massive cuts to children’s centers and the beginning of the end for council supported youth clubs.

Labour Councillors, by contrast, will oppose the Tory plans and have have identified a series of sensible, fully costed savings and reforms that would help provide an extra £484,000 to the Children’s Services Early Help budget, that would help substantially reduce the planned Tory cuts to Children’s Centres. It would create a virtual ‘ward budget’ of £44,000 under the control of Westminster’s Youth Council to support projects across Westminster. Westminster’s youth clubs would be supported by a new £500,000 endowment to the Young Westminster Foundation.

Labour Councillors also set out initial ideas for how to move towards a parking permit model based on a car’s emissions, tackling ‘gas guzzlers’, rewarding lower emission vehicles and supporting cycling and road safety schemes. A similar model is used in neighboring Camden. Labour suggests bringing in a higher rate of £250 for large engined cars (over 2500cc) to fund a £6 cut to the standard rate parking permit and support cycling and road safety schemes.

Labour Group Leader Councillor Adam Hug said:

“The massive cuts to council finances that Westminster now faces, are the result of Conservative Government policies for which Westminster Tory Councillors have been amongst the most vocal cheerleaders. These cruel cuts will hit those most in need the hardest and remove vital services our residents rely on. Labour by contrast have identified ways to protect services for children and tackle pollution, while cutting back Westminster’s waste and excess” 

Westminster Labour’s two amendments to the Council budget are as follows:

Amendment 1

To be moved by Councillor Adam Hug and seconded by Councillor David Boothroyd:

That Cabinet Recommendation (a) (iii) be amended by:

After ‘use of the Earmarked Reserves in Schedule 5 of the report’ inserting the following

‘with a reallocation of the £4million proposed addition to the general reserves (from the 2015/16 underspend) to instead be used to provide:

  • An additional investment in the Capital Asset programme of £3.5million
  • An additional contribution to the Young Westminster Foundation of £500,000

And that Cabinet Recommendation (a) (ix) be amended by:

After ‘that the cash limited budgets for each service with overall net expenditure for 2016/17 of £183,804k (as set out in Schedule 3) be approved’ inserting the following

‘with the changes as follows. An increase to the proposed figures for 2016/17 for the Children’s Services Early Help Budget of £484,000 and the creation of a £44,000 virtual ward budget for use by Westminster’s Youth Council. This will be funded in the following ways:

  • New income from additional Capital Asset Programme funding at a net figure for 2016/17 of £46,000 (achieving approx £155,000 extra in 2017/18)
  • Savings from closing the senior staff private health care scheme to new entrants to generate in 2016/17 £24,000
  • Savings from non-revenue generating expenditure by the Policy, Performance and Communications Directorate of £200,000

This should include:

  • ensuring that the Westminster Reporter is at minimum fully revenue neutral through increased advertising or by otherwise scrapping it outright. This will generate savings of £167,000
  • Savings from a review the department of the total spending in the Chief of Staff’s area totaling £258,000

This should include:

  • Lord Mayor’s office reforms of £100k
  • Ending the catering budget for members events £20,000
  • Scrapping payments to deputy cabinet members £48,000 and the Members Allowances Scheme be amended accordingly
  • Removal of Committee Vice-Chair payments £10,000 and the Members Allowances Scheme be amended accordingly.’
  • An additional reduction in staffing or running costs of the department in addition to those listed above  £80,000

Amendment 2:

To be moved by Councillor Adam Hug and seconded by Councillor David Boothroyd:

That Cabinet Recommendation (a) (iii) be also amended by:

In recommendations 2.1 on page 5 at the end insert the following.

‘The council will introduce a higher residents parking permit band of £250 for cars with engines over 2500cc in size. This is intended to improve air quality within the City and reduce CO2 emissions, it will generate part year revenues of £251,000. Of which £138,000 will be spent to reduce the standard residents parking permit rate by £6 (from £141 to £135). The remaining £113,000 is to be used with in the Sustainability and Parking budget for initial consultation and project implementation (including the development of a charging system fully incorporating CO2 emissions), with any remaining funds made available for cycling promotion and highway safety schemes.‘

This entry was posted in Council cuts, Council finances, Council Tax, Labour Councillors, Westminster City Council, Westminster Conservatives, Young People, Youth Services and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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