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Protecting what matters

February 4, 2019 9:00 AM

Mayor Dave Hodgson by the River in BedfordThis week the Liberal Democrat draft budget goes to a meeting of the Full Council, and a number of recent news stories from elsewhere have emphasised the importance of our fight to save services and protect the vulnerable in the face of huge government cuts.

  • Conservative Essex County Council is proposing to close 25 libraries. This follows on from Tory Northamptonshire's sweeping library closure programme and wider emergency service cuts, and the further 127 branches that were closed across the country last year.
  • Peterborough City Council is proposing to reduce support for those on low incomes under the scheme which has replaced council tax benefit. Meanwhile, research by the respected Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) this week showed that most councils now refuse to give full council tax relief to the very poorest, effectively raising their council tax bills on average by hundreds of pounds

By contrast, our 2019/20 budget retains all of our libraries, while we remain one of only one-fifth of councils to provide full council tax relief for the very poorest in our community. These people do not have the means to pay and would often end up being chased for payment via expensive action through the courts, with the IFS reporting that those councils with minimum payments for the poorest have seen a 'sizable' increase in uncollected council tax.

These are just two key features of our budget, which has more money for care for the vulnerable, no closures of leisure