Emergency measures from Labour, aiming to tackle food poverty and damp homes, have been voted down by the council’s ruling Liberal Democrat and Green groups. Instead, during a meeting to decide where around £0.8m of underspend from the last financial year should be allocated, they approved their own emergency budget which did little to address the real emergencies facing the city.
Councillor Danny Myers, Labour’s Group Leader in council, said: “Labour’s proposals come from a human rights perspective, and the belief that everyone deserves to be able to eat a decent meal and live in a decent home. These are some of the real emergencies facing the council and the city at present, but which have fallen on deaf ears for this Lib-Dem led council. Our budget allocated £40,000 for the remainder of 2019-20 for hot meals and other emergency food provision in a city where a staggering 10,000, or almost 1 in 5 children, are living in poverty.
“Our budget also allocated a sum of money to raise awareness of Pension Credit to the approximate 40% of people entitled to it but who don’t claim it. This is incredibly important for those who will now be charged a licence fee by the BBC due to the Government’s huge funding cuts. Watching TV can help with social isolation and loneliness for those that don’t or are unable to get out much.
“But our budget would begin to take the steps necessary to reverse some other unwanted trends for York. We budgeted for reducing the council’s response to fly-tipping from one week to one day, following annual increases in reports in recent years.
“And in a city where wages have fallen in real terms by the largest amount in the whole country, we budgeted for a buy local, promote local, grow local strategy to retain more wealth in York. Retaining more wealth locally will lead to better levels of pay, which is so desperately needed.
“It’s disappointing that all of this was voted down in favour of handing out an extra £5k per councillor to spend in their wards which cannot be deemed an emergency. It showed the Coalition budget to be lacking in any strategic thinking, with no specific objectives attached to many of their larger giveaways. I hope their approach to the council’s annual budget will be far more responsible”.