Cardiff Lib Dems offer lower council tax rise with more investment in roads, clean streets and supporting the city’s most vulnerable
Cardiff’s Liberal Democrats have proposed an alternative budget for Cardiff Council for the coming year that would reduce Labour’s proposed 5% council tax rise to just 3.8% whilst also providing more funding to prioritise the city’s most vulnerable citizens, support services aimed at tackling loneliness, repair the city’s crumbling roads and pavements, and deliver cleaner streets.
“As a result of poor financial planning which failed to accurately account for the pay rise for council workers, we don’t feel the Labour administration has got its priorities right,” said Cllr Rodney Berman, Liberal Democrat spokesperson for finance. “Labour’s funding plans are in a degree of chaos because they only planned for a 1% pay rise for council staff despite my warnings last September that 2% was more realistic.
“By bringing forward some perfectly achievable efficiencies, however, we believe a more reasonable balance can be struck by setting a lower council tax rise at the same time as investing in key services.
“Our spending priorities match up with those areas on which we have campaigned since May’s local elections: the appalling gap between the haves and have-nots, the importance of community engagement and the essential need to promote sustainable transport.
“That’s why we’d reduce cuts to social services, why we’d support day centres and park rangers who work with community groups to counter loneliness and why we’d repair the mass of pot-holes that deter people from taking up cycling. We’ve also put forward a plan to deliver more street sweepers to help keep the city’s streets clean, something we know is a key priority for many residents.
“Additionally, we’ve also made good on our election promise to provide free school transport to all families who live more than 2.5 miles from high school. The growing pressure on school places and the need to travel further to school is felt most by those families who can afford it the least.
“We believe all this can be achieved whilst pegging the council tax rise to 3.8%, in contrast to Labour’s unacceptable 5%.”
The money has been found partly by drawing upon the council’s contingency fund, which will now be reduced to £2.1m.
“We have previously argued that the contingency fund leads to a lack of financial rigour,” said Cllr Berman. “It provides a slush fund which it is too easy for the council to dip into if savings targets slip. It shouldn’t be so easy for services to overspend, safe in the knowledge that there is a fund to bail them out, as has happened in the current financial year to the tune of millions of pounds.
“This is a poor way to look after public money and shows Labour can’t be trusted to look after public funds in this time of austerity.
“We have decided to spend the money up front instead, particularly by spending an additional £400,000 on social services. This will reduce the most risky savings that Labour is proposing, releasing the pressure on hard-pressed social workers and the families they help.
“These Lib Dem budget proposals help those who need it most while removing some of the pressure Labour has put on family finances, and we will be urging the council to support them.”