After twelve years of cuts inflicted on the borough by the Conservative government, Labour’s local council budget proposals for 2022/23 will make more funding available for services most valued by the public – and which will benefit every community across our borough.
The proposals which were endorsed by the council’s cabinet today include:
- An extension of the Council’s Neighbourhoods Road Safety programme, with two new dedicated staff, worth a total of up to £1.19m per year to tackle speeding, dangerous parking and local road safety worries.
- £310,000 to complete an upgrade of the borough’s CCTV with a dedicated post to manage this going forward, helping to tackle crime and increase public confidence.
- Nearly half a million pounds a year to extend the contracts of seasonal street cleaning and grounds maintenance staff, meaning more grass cutting, weed removal, and cleaner streets, as well as new street sweeping vehicles.
- More than £700,000 a year to support children and young people with additional youth work, support for children at risk of child criminal exploitation, and the reintroduction of grants to help low income families with the cost of school uniforms.
- In keeping our commitment to provide high quality adult social care to those who need it, the budget plans uplifts in funding for care homes, supported living and day care. Hundreds of Social Care Personal Assistants are proposed to receive an increase in pay to bring them in line with the Real Living Wage.
The budget comes against a backdrop of uncertainty following the Covid pandemic, rising inflation, the government’s National Insurance rise and another one year national funding settlement for councils. We are planning for an £11 million a year increase to support Adult Social Care, and whilst the government has increased funding to the council this year, that funding still falls short of the cost of providing this essential service to elderly residents and those with disabilities in particular.
As a result, we need again to use the Conservative’s Adult Social Care Levy in order to meet the difference. Overall the increase in the levy and general council tax comes in below the government’s referendum theshold for the third straight year, meaning this year an increase in bills of 90p per week for the typical Rotherham household.
However, we know that people are feeling the squeeze as the government fails to deal with rising energy bills, inflation, and imposes the cut to Universal Credit and the increase in National Insurance – and those on the lowest incomes are being worst affected. So we are introducing more help for those who need it the most. Our two year top up to Council Tax Support will help nearly 1 in 5 of all households of working age in the borough. An estimated 10,000 families in the lowest incomes will be lifted out of all borough-wide elements of council tax altogether, with a further 4,000 receiving a contribution of up to £112 towards their bill. This funding is in addition to the government’s so-called Council Tax Rebate.
Cllr Chris Read, Labour Leader of Rotherham Council, said;
“Over the last decade, successive Conservative governments have hammered the funding for councils like Rotherham, with local services that people once took for granted being cut and those on the lowest incomes being hardest hit. Rotherham Council has been cut by £200m and nearly 2,000 council jobs were lost as a result. We have taken the tough, responsible decisions that we needed to over that time and now we meet today’s challenges in a stronger position than many other councils. That means that even in difficult circumstances we can put money into residents’ priorities: safer streets, a cleaner environment and supporting our children and young people. We want all our neighbourhoods to look and feel better for everyone who lives in them.
“Whilst the Council’s finances remain challenging, we still have savings to make, and the rising cost of inflation and National Insurance challenges us just as it does local households, we are living up to our commitment that no one should get left behind. That’s why we are prioritising funding for social care and helping to increase the pay of vital frontline social care staff, including hundreds of personal assistants, who deserve much more than just the legal minimum. It’s why we’re reintroducing grants for low-income families to help with the cost of school uniforms, adding to our existing plans for free school meals during school holidays. And why our Council Tax Support Top Up will give extra protection to many of the families who are most vulnerable to the rising cost of living.”