The Conservative Group on Bradford Council has proposed an alternative budget which would see Basic Council Tax frozen and an Adult Social Care precept of just 1.5% this year.
Councillor Mike Pollard, Conservative Group Spokesman for Finance said, “The Conservative Group recognise that this last year has been a financial nightmare for most households throughout Bradford District and indeed the nation, with the incomes of many people reduced by the loss of their employment, having their hours reduced, or being furloughed.
The Labour-led Council is proposing increasing Council Tax by a total of 4.99% but we feel this is not the time to significantly increase Council Tax for the residents of the District. We have gone through the Council’s budgets with a fine-tooth comb to find ways to avoid this, whilst also investing in important day to day services and those to help people get through the
health and emotional challenges caused by the Covid19 pandemic.
To put it simply, whilst our proposals at least match the Council’s proposed investments in services essential to support local people and the local economy, we decided not to use the option to increase the general Council Tax charge at all. We did not follow Labour’s lead of imposing the maximum 1.99% increase and also, instead of proposing to increase the charge towards the cost of Adult Social Care by the permitted 3% this year, we proposed spreading it over two years at 1.5% each year, without reducing the money available to care for the elderly.
We are using un-needed Council reserves to plug the gap.
By choosing priorities that are of most importance for residents and removing funding from those which aren’t, we have found money to withdraw some parking charges, spend more on cleaning gutters and gullies to prevent or at least reduce flooding problems, increase spending
on street cleaning and fly-tipping prevention and increase spending on gritting. All of these are issues which are raised with my colleagues and I on a very regular basis.
In relation to the Covid19 pandemic, as well as the financial devastation it has wreaked, the human impact has been catastrophic, particularly for those already vulnerable. Children and young people spending formative years deprived of socialising at school and play and people vulnerable to mental health issues in the same position have been hit particularly hard.
The Conservative Group has budgeted for the Council to invest an additional £350,000 to support young people to deal with their physical and mental wellbeing. This must be a priority to the Council going forward.
We also propose putting £600,000 into local communities so smaller local issues can be dealt with quickly without council bureaucracy.
Overall we have produced a budget that has listened to the residents of the District and focuses on key services and issues whilst keeping the basic council tax frozen”