In response to the Conservative Cabinet’s proposed County Budget for 2021, the Liberal Democrat Opposition have published an amendment seeking to curb the rise in Council Tax and put more back into Children’s Services and Adult Social Care.
Liberal Democrat Group Leader, Councillor David Tutt, said: “The Tories claim there’s a small surplus to allocate this year, but that’s after a decade of cuts amounting to £134 million and still more planned next year. They’ve allocated part of the small surplus to pay for highways items that are really capital – going back on their plan not to fund capital from current revenue, announced last year. Our reasoned amendment balances the budget, slows the rise in Council Tax, and puts £600,000 more towards stretched resources for Children’s Services and Adult Social Care.”
Councillor Tutt added: “We’ve pushed again for a full review of the staffing and budget structure of the Council – a transformation programme – to make ESCC flexible and robust for no doubt difficult times ahead. That is funded from a reserve designed for such a programme but not yet used for it.”
Liberal Democrat Lead on Children’s Services, Councillor Alan Shuttleworth, points out that: “Children’s Services in East Sussex have been of high quality – we need to keep them that way. We do not support the cuts that the Conservatives have made. More funding to support Childrens’ Centres and outreach staffing and support work is essential. Caseworkers dealing with Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND) are overstretched and we want to relieve that pressure.”
Liberal Democrat Lead on Finance and Resources, Councillor Philip Daniel, added: “We need to send a signal that residents can’t keep bearing the brunt of government cuts through rises in their Council Tax. Council Tax in East Sussex is already higher than most. Taking off ½ percentage point of the Conservatives’ proposed increase shows that change is possible, within responsible budgeting.”