Ian Shires

Liberal Democrat Councillor for Willenhall North Ward, Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Walsall MBC Learn more

Council Budget: Lib Dems succeed in getting help for those in most need

by Ian Shires on 24 February, 2012

Last night’s Budget Meeting at Walsall Council saw the Liberal Democrats succeed in getting their amendment accepted which will begin to address the long standing issue of inequality across the Borough which manifests itself in life expectancy in the west of the borough being some 8 years less than that in the east.

In his speech to the Council Lib Dem group leader cllr Ian Shires said “This inequality cascades down from Health through Housing, education and job opportunities, and affects the quality of life of older people. the amendment I am moving on behalf of the Liberal Democrat group is designed to begin to address this issue.”

Earlier Ian had said, “The direction of the budget before us tonight was set at the adjourned annual council meeting back in June last year when Labour abdicated its responsibilities by allowing the Tories to take control of the council.

“Unlike in Westminster, here in Walsall there is no Lib Dem / Tory coalition. The Tories, thanks to Labour virtually have a free hand to do as they like.

“As a result; apart from unpicking and rewriting this budget from scratch; all that is possible is to begin to change the direction of policy, and that is our aim tonight.”

The Liberal Democrat sought to take a modest amount of money; some £720,000; out of the Council’s reserves in order to pump prime a number of projects across Social care for those who look after the sick, disabled and elderly, young people and those in danger of losing their homes in these trying times.

As Liberal Democrats we believe that the state, and that includes local government, should be there to catch you when you fall and set you on the right track back to recovery.

In the field of social care the Lib Dem amendment brings help to those who care for others by investing £250,000 in a dedicated group within the welfare rights team along with support to reduce the burden of care.

A further £190,000 will go on youth projects designed to reduce anti social behaviour (ASB) added to that there will also be a youth activity programme and help help for young people in deprived areas in getting into work.

Finally there will be £280,000 further investment in the the benefits service to support tenants following changes to the housing benefits system which will impact particularly on those finding themselves out of work in these harsh times.

The Lib Dem amendment helps those in most need. We have not, as Labour would have done, taken anything away from those more fortunate. We have added a modest amount which will provide help where it’s needed without impacting on the budget or the amount of council tax which once again stays at the same level.

When the amendment was put to the vote it was carried 31 voting in favour. Labour councillors spoke against the amendment and then abstained. Says it all doesn’t it. Labour are all talk and no action!!

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