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Surrey Liberal Democrats announce priorities

February 5, 2013 2:00 PM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems

Council Tax BillLiberal Democrats on Surrey County Council have today announced their priorities for the 2013/14 County Council budget following their announcement calling for a Council Tax freeze last week.

Cllr Hazel Watson, Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition said: "The Liberal Democrats on Surrey County Council have called for a Council Tax freeze for 2013/14 to help Surrey residents keep their cost of living down.

"There is enough money stashed away in the Conservative-run County Council's coffers to freeze Council Tax and improve services for Surrey residents where there is a real need to do so.

"The Conservative administration has highlighted they are cutting non schools earmarked reserves from £112 million on 31 March 2012 to £100 million on 31 March 2013. What they fail to mention is that the level of these reserves rocketed from £37 million on 31 March 2010 to £112 million on 31 March 2012, nearly a three-fold increase in two years.

"Essential services have been underfunded by the Conservative administration at County Hall. The Liberal Democrat proposals are easily affordable given that the Conservative administration has squirreled away over £200 million in reserves and balances."

The Liberal Democrats additionally propose the following budget items:

  • £6.5 million to improve the condition of the County's roads and footways as well as schemes to improve safety for all road users including pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders. The Conservative administration has made a big deal of the amount of money they plan to invest in Surrey's roads, without saying that £2.6 million of their plans in 2013/14 are from extra government funding. Our plans are in addition to the extra money from government, making a total of £9.1 million extra for Surrey's roads and footways. Our budget plans include funding to tackle Surrey's massive backlog of investment in essential road resurfacing, tackle flooding on Surrey roads, extra grit bins and money to reduce speed limits including 20 mph zones without physical traffic calming.
  • £400,000 extra support per year, plus £100,000 one off funding for 2013/14, for voluntary organisations that provide essential local services for Surrey residents. This money would restore the Conservative administration's £200,000 cut in 2012/13. On top of this we are proposing £200,000 to voluntary organisations such as the Citizens Advice Bureaux to provide much needed debt advice for Surrey residents. The extra £100,000 for 2013/14 only is to help voluntary organisations provide advice to Surrey residents in a year of benefits changes.
  • £800,000 to increase the opening hours of youth centres and to provide more detached youth work in local communities.
  • £400,000 respite provision for children with disabilities to restore the Conservative administration's cut of £355,000 last year.
  • £600,000 extra money for respite care for older people which is currently underfunded to the tune of £500,000. The further £100,000 will be used to meet growing demand for this service.

Hazel Watson continued: "The Liberal Democrat budget plans for 2013/14 amount to an extra £6.5 million capital and £2.3 million revenue. This would be funded by halving the excessive £2 million budget for glossy publications and PR spin. The rest of the money would be taken from the huge cash reserves and balances hoarded by the Conservative administration totalling over £200 million.

"The Liberal Democrat Budget plan is a good deal for Surrey residents to improve essential services whilst freezing Council Tax. This contrasts starkly with the Conservative administration's Budget which imposes a 1.99% Council Tax increase to hit the pockets of Surrey residents when it is completely unnecessary."

NOTE:

Earmarked reserve levels (£thousands)

31-Mar-10

37284

31-Mar-11

64408

31-Mar-12

112085

31-Mar-13

99700

2013, projected figure from Cabinet budget papers page 73.

Historic figures are from annual audited statements of accounts (totals shown include schools balances, which should be deducted from the totals).

http://www.surreycc.gov.uk/your-council/council-tax-and-finance/statement-of-accounts