Last Wednesday at Bury’s Budget Council Meeting the ruling Labour group of Councillors voted for an increase in Council Tax from 1 April 2016 of 3.8%.
The increase is made up of a basic increase of 1.94%, plus a further 2% social care levy, together with Police and Fire increase of £5 and 1.99%. Council house tenants will see their rents reduced by 1%.
The bulk of the extra money raised in this 3.8% increase (£2.7 million) will go towards increasing costs in social care costs, particularly the need to pay staff the Government’s living wage. A smaller amount (£0.6 million) will go towards flood resilience and highways repairs.
The budget has been set with continuing severe reductions in Government funding for local government, meaning that Bury Council has had to make savings or £11.6 million for 2016-17. Bury continues to get a very funding poor deal from central government – £294 per person with the national average being £352 per person.
The most significant savings will be made through working better together with local health services, saving £2.5 million, and making more use of things like Local Authority Trading Companies to save £2 million. The Council will also be looking to increase the other income it receives by £1.6 million by looking at potential for new charges, and ‘more robust enforcement strategy’. Our very significant concern is that there is no read detail given on these savings, which will obviously have a significant impact on residents, and staff, which is not yet clear.
Apparently 230 people across Bury took part in the Council’s consultation on the budget.
New Council Tax Rates are:
Band A – £1,047.52
Band B – £1,222.10
Band C – £1,396.69
Band D – £1,571.29
Band E – £1,920.47
Band F – £2,269.64
Band G – £2,618.81
Band H – £3,142.58
Liberal Democrat Group Proposals
The Liberal Democrat Group’s alternative budget was to:
– Spend £2 million of the Council’s spare ‘reserves’ to take urgent action to repair the worst roads and pavements.
All residents will be aware that from decades of poor investment the state of too many of our roads is a disgrace. Over a three-year period the Council spent £3 million paying out compensation or legal costs for claims against poor road surfaces. We wanted to make help redress this issue and think this is a worthwhile use of spare reserves that the Council has.
– Invest more money in Adult Social Care, specifically to end the use of 15 minute home care visits in Bury.
Liberal Democrats would have put up Council Tax by the social care levy only (2%) and spent this money on improving the care we give to the most vulnerable people that the Council helps. Our research has recently shown that Bury provided 200,000 home care visits of 15 minutes or less in a year. Trades Unions, charities, and NICE Guidelines all condemn 15 minute care visits as totally unacceptable as care, except in occasional circumstances as part of a bigger package of support.
More money to improve our local environment.
We wanted to improve our local areas by setting up a small budget of £5,000 for each Council Ward area to spend on local priorities such as: graffiti, alleyways, tree replacement, fly-tipping or dog fouling – whatever the priority is for each local area. We would fund this through spare resources in the New Homes Bonus.
Unfortunately Labour Councillors voted against our alternative budget and these improvements will not happen this year.
The full papers for the Council meeting are here.
Sign our petition to End 15 Minute Care Visits in Bury here.