City of York Council West Offices
City of York Council West Offices

Labour’s budget to protect jobs, support the local economy and invest in the next generation

The Labour Group on City of York Council have set out their budget priorities for 2021-22 ahead of this week’s full council budget meeting. Labour councillors say their budget priorities will protect jobs, support the local economy and invest in the next generation, arguing this is essential in a world turned upside down over the past 12 months by the Covid pandemic.

One of the key objectives is bringing the council’s economic growth function back in-house to City of York Council from Make it York. With a local economy struggling due to an over-reliance on low paid work and consecutive Covid lockdowns, Labour argue that this would help get the economy moving in a what will hopefully soon be a post-Covid world.

Councillor Danny Myers, Labour Group Leader in the council, said:

“Our budget will bring the incredibly neglected economic support and growth function back to the council with Make it York failing to give it the attention it deserves.  There has been a lack of focus on supporting businesses which bodes very badly at a time when that support is needed most, so decisive action now is essential.  This is what businesses are telling us.  Moving in-house if the proposal is agreed would be inward investment, business growth hub support, and other business support activity.

“This budget will protect jobs, support our local economy and invest in the next generation. The Lib Dems’ wasteful spending in recent years has resulted in a damaging hit in this year’s budget. Wasting £0.5m on unnecessarily removing the council’s chief executive, along with a gagging clause, as well as the millions extra on a stalled Local Plan and the Community Stadium has meant that jobs will be lost, and services hit, due to those costly financial mistakes”.  

Labour’s Deputy Leader, Councillor Anna Perrett, laid out some of the priorities for the budget.

“We are opposed to the short-sighted outsourcing of Council services and would halt further outsourcing plans for adult social care. Outsourcing means we waste money on shareholder profits and the cost of managing contracts. Wages and pensions for our key workers are reduced once jobs are outsourced, which means there is less money to go around our local economy and into York residents’ pockets. It is the opposite of what we should be doing right now.

“Labour would also strip out the Lib Dems’ bloated political centre that they’ve created through extra allowances and extra direct officer support for their ruling Executive councillors and redirect the money into services and initiatives that will actually benefit residents.  We’d also spend less on ‘messaging’ from the council, in a department that has grown considerably over the years”.

Elsewhere, Labour’s budget seeks to invest in the next generation by boosting vital early years support and continuing to fund the ‘Training for Wellbeing for Education return’ service, delivered by York Mind, supporting pupils and teachers in responding to the mental impact of Covid.

It also allocates funding for young adults being impacted by limited opportunities in the Covid-hit economy.  The total £320k ‘Next Generation’ package consists of:

– Early Talk for York – speech, language and communication development for pre-school children

– Support for 18-24 year olds not in work, and likely to be most affected by the Covid-hit economy

– Skills support for 15-24 year olds at risk of not being in employment, education or training (NEET).

– Four year council tax exemption for care-leavers.

– A Children’s Commissioner for York

– A child poverty strategy and adopting the Right to Food.

In other areas of the Labour budget, councillors will propose a freeze on charges increases for cremation and other bereavement services, and freeze charges for the disposal of waste at the council’s recycling centres, which the Lib Dem-Green council intends to hike.

Cllr Myers said: “Now isn’t the time to clobber residents with charges for disposing of waste, when people are having to spend so much time at home, while charge hikes for the crematorium appear particularly insensitive at the current time.”

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