Speaking in response to the publication of the council’s draft budget today, York Green Party Chair, Tom Franklin, says: “The Government has deliberately put councils in an almost impossible position by failing to provide enough financial support to make up for the additional demand on services and reduced income as a result of Covid. The council is facing the need to make an estimated £25m saving over the next 3 years, with £7.9m identified in this budget. In these circumstances we believe it is the right thing to do to include the 3% social care precept and the maximum allowed council tax increase of 1.99%.
“Our Green Councillors have been working hard to ensure that despite all the challenges, this budget maintains and protects vital services, particularly for the most vulnerable, with continued investment in hardship funds to assist those who are struggling most financially. The budget includes significant extra funding for Adult Social Care and Children’s Services and support for the community and voluntary sectors, whilst also looking to the future and the need to create new green jobs for York residents and tackle climate change.
“I’m glad that the proposals retain the council’s £600m capital programme which includes investment in York Central, the Castle Gateway, the new Guildhall complex and the Eco Business Centre, along with new electric fleet, a new community woodland, the council’s zero carbon Housing Delivery Programme and more than £10m of investment in the fabric of our council homes as well as a £2m energy efficiency retrofit programme. All of these initiatives help to support and create much needed new jobs and our Green councillors are committed to supporting initiatives around skills and retraining, for example via the £50k allocated as part of the Covid Recovery Fund. There is also one-off funding to consult on a new Local Transport Plan.
“The £2.5m Covid Recovery Fund is a prudent and essential contingency fund to ensure that the council is able to remain financially sustainable and better able to respond to any future shocks or emergencies including further Covid-19 chaos, the impact of Brexit, and further recession. I also very much welcome the allocated funds for supporting communities and individuals in need, carers and voluntary sector mental health initiatives, as well as sustainable travel incentives, support to local businesses and skills development programmes. “This is a budget that has demanded a lot of difficult decisions and fresh thinking and I very much welcome that it is both financially prudent, protects vital services and looks to the future.”