My Budget Speech 20/21

I’ve been looking at some old videos. In particular a video of a full council meeting here in March 2016. It was fascinating. I watched Councillor Massey propose the budget for the next year. He announced that the Council Tax bill of, for example, £1376 for Band D, non-parish
would remain the same. But he also said that George Osborne‘s new Levy which was ring fenced for
adult care would be added to the bill. That amount was £27 for Band D taking the bill to £1403.
Then, when the police and the fire service added their precepts the total bill was £1685. At that
meeting, in response to this budget, Councillor Lanigan told us she could not vote for it. She said it
might look like pennies, but it wasn’t pennies to some residents. She said people are struggling – she
had spoken to a great many people in the borough and they had said please don’t do it Mary. She
said our 2% increase on adult care and no increase on council tax itself was unacceptable. At the
same meeting Councillor Kay told us it was the whole bill that mattered to people not what it
consisted of and that we were only using the adult care levy to balance our budget. Let us compare
that with today when the same cllr Lanagan, now Leader of the Council, brings us a budget in which
last years Band D rate of £1494 has £32 in CT increase added to it, then £128 added to it under the
precept for adult care and then with the fire and police precept the total bill is over £2000. For band
D. What an awful milestone that is for this council, that band D has now gone over £2000. That is her
choice and presumably she finds herself acceptable.
To my great regret I had to spent my four years as a Cabinet member making cuts in services
because of Tory austerity. Those were the dark days of austerity when George Osborne told us if we
accepted his massive cuts he would promise us that they wouldn’t be worse. There is a word for
that – that is blackmail. And he broke the promise anyway because that’s the kind of guy he is. But
what kind of leadership do we have in the council now? You told us £1600 was not acceptable but
now over £2000 is acceptable for Band D. And yet you make no acknowledgement that you have
changed your mind.
We are now told again and again by government that austerity is over. If that is true why do you still
need to raise council tax? If it is not true why should I support you in making our hard pressed
residents pay for a pandemic they didn’t cause when they were already made to pay for the financial
crash that they didn’t cause, so that the millionaires in the Westminster cabinet can avoid taxing
their mates. They are still the same residents and they still can’t afford it. You will say that we have
council tax relief- well that covers the very poorest but it doesn’t go anywhere near covering the
working poor. And most poor families now are in work and we have nurses using food banks. They
won’t get it.
Also we hear from the local MPs you are expecting some extra money in the chancellor’s budget as
well as the extension in the extra £20 in universal credit that labour has been pressing for. It should
be permanent really, and also that there will be help for the self-employed. And so I’m going to
make a choice. Despite all the Tory lies we’ve had I’m going to choose to believe that that will
happen. I might be naive for doing so but I’d rather be naive than a bitter old politician. In fact I need
to believe it. I need to believe it because I know precisely what further austerity will do to our
communities. It will cause social chaos. It will in increase crime. It will produce a health bill that the
NHS cannot possibly meet. It will increase suicide and it will produce Victorian levels of poverty
Victorian and the return of Victorian problems like malnutrition and diseases such as rickets. I would
like to think I need to think that the government are at least humane enough not to let that happen.
And I won’t support this further impoverishment of our residents and their families in terms of a
much higher bill together with a lower level of service than 5 years ago. Please don’t do it Mary.

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