Full details of our budget proposals

Local people tell us that they look to their councillors to work together for the good of the local community. This is what we have been trying hard to do. Public consultation in 2010 guided the work that the Council had to do to makes its books balance while maintaining local services – and that’s what people told us that they wanted.

It was disappointing that after Labour took control of the Council in May 2013, without winning any more Council seats, they chose to devise the proposals for the Council’s budget for the next 3 years, without seeking any involvement from any councillors other than their own. They said that they would be “open and transparent”, but this is not our experience within the Council.

Therefore the Conservative and Liberal Democrat groups of councillors have separately examined the Cabinet budget proposals carefully. We have taken account of the results of the consultation and what local people and businesses have been saying to us, and have decided together to make the following proposals along three themes:

  1. Supporting a fairer society

  2. Building a stronger economy

  3. Better Value for your money

As you will see from the detailed proposals all of our plans are fully costed and have been checked by the Council’s finance officers.

 Additional Proposals to Cabinet Budget Proposals 2014

Calderdale’s Labour Cabinet budget: The devil’s in the detail

The initial response from local Liberal Democrats questions both the process and the contents of the budget proposals.

“When Labour took control of the Council in May 2013, with the passive support of the Conservatives, they said that they would run an ‘open and transparent’ Council. However, their method of preparing these budget proposals has been anything but. They have been closed and secretive” says Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Cllr Janet Battye (Calder). “While I’m not surprised at some of the proposals, Labour chose not to continue the open process of cross-party Budget Review groups which we set up when we began to run the Council with them and continued throughout the 3 years that we were part of the Cabinet”.

“Secondly, although Labour talk about “ambition”, and we have challenged them to explain their vision, they still will not say what role they see for the Council and what type of services local people can expect to get. There are a lot of words in the preamble to the figures, but little meaning.”

“Thirdly, the devil’s in the detail: from the information provided in the budget papers, it is difficult to understand what they intend to do. How are they going to “realign other services with Public Health outcomes”? There are four proposals about the waste collection service with an initial reduction of over £0.5m – what impact will that have? Let alone a “Future Workforce Programme” which we’ve never heard of”.

“There are 27 proposals in total, 11 of which involve Reviews. These are substantial pieces of work with little clear explanation of how and why they fit into any vision or strategy for local services. Given the slow pace of development and implementation of many of their recent strategies – such as Child Poverty on which work appears not to have started – we must seriously question their competence to run the Council without close involvement of all Councillors”.

“It is deeply disappointing that, despite Labour’s fine words, there seems to be nothing in these proposals to support and invest in the local Green Economy, carbon reduction and affordable warmth. We particularly want to see more work done on Community Energy. It is likely that our budget proposals will include something on this.

“I’m not sure that Labour, on their own, have the economic competence to make savings without affecting services. Only Liberal Democrats can deliver both a stronger economy and a fairer society”

Councillor Janet Battye – Leader of the Liberal Democrat Group on Calderdale Council

Extra funding for free early years education

The Government has announced additional funding to provide free early years education to two-year olds across England, bringing the number of families eligible in Calderdale up to a total of 1,400 for 2014 up from from 524 in 2013.

childrens-centre-photo

Across the UK that’s 130,000 two-year olds from the poorest homes will be eligible for 15 hours of free childcare a week with a nursery or childminder.

The Government is investing more than £500 million into childcare this year and £100 million through local authorities to create new places to ensure those children eligible right now can benefit from these places.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said:

“From today, if you’re a parent on a low income with a two year old in the family your child will qualify for 15 hours a week of free early years’ education.

“These funded places are focused on helping the families that need them most.”

Next year the Government will be investing £760m to help an additional 130,000 two-year-olds in families on less than £16,190 a year who receive working tax credits.

Commenting Cllr Pauline Nash said:

“This is a welcome announcement for families in Calderdale as early education helps promote a child’s physical, emotional and social development. This extra funding is one example of how we are trying to build a fairer society in which everyone has a chance to get on in life.

 

New powers to protect vulnerable consumers from rogue traders – Swinson

Liberal Democrat Business Minister Jo Swinson has today announced new plans to tackle rogue traders and give better protection to vulnerable and elderly consumers.

Rogue traders cost consumers billions of pounds per year and can cause distress and alarm to people, especially elderly and vulnerable people.

The new proposals amending the Consumer Protection Regulations from Unfair Trading Regulations will:

    • give consumers 90 days to cancel a contract and receive a full refund if they have been misled or bullied into agreeing it. After the 90 days consumers can still receive a proportion of their money back. Currently, it is unclear what consumers are entitled to in this situation
    • give consumers new rights to recover payments made to traders who mislead or bully them into paying money which was not owed. Currently, the trader can be prosecuted but the consumer finds it much more difficult to get their money back; and
    • they will also have the right to claim compensation for any alarm or distress caused by these practices

Jo Swinson said:

“For too long the rules that apply when buying goods and services have been murky for both consumers and businesses. The situation is even worse for vulnerable consumers who are misled into buying something they neither need nor want.

“We want consumers to be confident to shop with a range of traders and to drive rogues out of business. The new rights announced today will mean consumers are entitled to the same level of protection whether they are purchasing goods or services online, at home or in a shop.”