LGA Liberal Democrat Group Spokespeople’s comments on the budget can be found below. The LGA cross party briefing giving full details of the LGA response can be found at www.local.gov.uk and a summary of the main proposals in the budget can be found at https://www.local.gov.uk/parliament/briefings-and-responses/budget-2018-summary
Commenting on the 2018 Budget, LGA Liberal Democrat Group Leader Howard Sykes said:
“We saw nothing to tackle the massive funding crisis facing local police services, or anything of substance to address the gaping holes in our social care and school budgets.
Local Government next year will face £1.3 billion pounds worth of planned cuts to services, cuts that will bite even harder than they have to date. The Chancellor talked a lot about councils gaining ‘greater control’ over finances by allowing them to retain business rates and by lifting the housing cap, but the revenue support grant that councils rely upon is being phased out by 2020. These additional “powers” or “flexibilities” will not bridge the gap. For us, austerity does not seem to be coming to an end anytime soon – in fact it just took a turn for the worse.”
“Smoke and mirrors” over social care funding announcement
Commenting on the funding announced for social care, Cllr Richard Kemp, LGA Liberal Democrat Health and Social Care Spokesperson, said: “This is classic smoke and mirrors from the Conservatives. While £650 million for social care sounds a lot, this includes £240 million already announced for reducing winter pressures.
“Adult and Children’s social care faces a funding gap of £2.6 billion in the next financial year, so the £410 million extra isn’t enough to fill this. For example, the increases in the Budget for the National Living Wage for care staff, while very much deserved, need to be paid for.
“In other words this is about a third of what councils need just to keep services going at their current rate. And the government continue to cut public health funding so preventative schemes such as advice on giving up smoking or getting more exercise face further funding pressure, meaning more people will end up needing hospital care.”
Education and Children’s social care
Cllr Lucy Nethsingha, Lib Dem spokesperson on Children and Young People said: “School budgets up and down the country are being stretched to limit but the money Hammond tossed them in yesterday’s budget isn’t enough for an extra teacher each and is less than he’s allocated to potholes!”
“In addition the ‘extra’ money the chancellor announced to expand children’s social care programmes is a splash in the ocean and a let-down for every needy child suffering across the UK. 270 new children enter the care system every day and more than a billion pounds of extra money will needed every year in order to protect children who are risk of harm. The Tory Government has proved it isn’t prepared to spend the money that will keep them safe.”
Plastics and recycling
Liberal Democrat Group Deputy Leader Cllr Ruth Dombey said: “Tories have failed to harness public opinion on single use plastics. The time is ripe for meaningful policy change to keep our environment safe and reverse climate change but the Chancellor can’t even follow through with a levy on plastic cups.”
“There is no way we can recycle our way out of the Plastic Crisis and this budget does nothing to lessen the burden on local councils who are lumbered with collecting and disposing millions of single use plastic items each year, meaning the tax payer is left to foot the bill.”
“It proves the Tories are full of hot air and no credible action. We demand better for Environment. Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for a ban all single-use plastic within three years, the introduction of a levy on all producers and retailers that produce or use single-use plastics and the introduction of a latte levy.”
Delay in Fixed Odds Betting Terminals slammed
Commenting on the delay to lower the maximum stake in Fixed Odds Betting Terminals from £100 to £2, Cllr Anita Lower, Safer Communities spokesperson for the Liberal Democrat Group said: “Waiting more than a year for maximum stakes on fixed odds betting terminals to be reduced is too long and extremely concerning.
“We urge government to move more quickly to keep its promise to cut maximum stakes from £100 to £2 which will help prevent vulnerable players from losing £100 in seconds in a single play, which many people cannot afford to lose. The harm and anti-social behaviour FOBTs can cause has become an issue of growing national concern, while research has shown that problem gambling, often linked to FOBTs, creates huge costs for the NHS, councils and the criminal justice system.
“The Government made the right decision to impose a £2 stake limit, but taking another year before implementing it only compounds the social and economic problems we know FOBTs cause.”