Wednesday, 16th March, 2016
The LGA Lib Dems support Liberal Democrat council groups across England & Wales
LGA comment and briefing on the budget is available at www.local.gov.uk/budget-2016 or www.local.gov.uk
Commenting on today’s Budget, LGA Lib Dem Group Leader Gerald Vernon Jackson said:
“While the Chancellor seems to have recognised the funding pressures facing councils and local services by not announcing any more cuts to local government in the budget, we need to be very worried what the public sector efficiency review announced today will bring in the future. We are not out of the woods yet – the Osbourne axe could yet come again.
“We have yet again seen the Tories top down approach to devolution deals, with the carrot of extra cash being dangled in front of councils to sign up to elected mayors. When will they listen that one size doesn’t fit all?
“And the Tories’ failure to bring forward much needed social care funding to this year means vulnerable members of the community still face an uncertain future where the dignified care and support they deserve, such as help getting dressed, fed or getting out and about, remains at risk. Vital social care services will also increasingly be unable to help ease the growing pressure on the NHS and the threat of a care home crisis will creep closer to becoming a reality.
“Allowing local government to keep 100 per cent of business rates is key and is something the Local Government has been campaigning to achieve for the last decade. But the governments annocement of pilot areas is piecemeal, divisive and badly thought out, and could have a knock-on financial impact on other councils. Local government rightly needs to play a lead role in making sure any new national system works effectively and fairly.”
Cllr Chris White, Deputy Leader of the LGA Liberal Democrat Group added:
“This is a government which pretends to believe in choice for parents. But parents whose children attend council maintained schools will have no choice. They will be forced to see their school convert to an academy, regardless of what they want to see happen.
“Liberal Democrats will continue to fight for the rights of parents and the wider school community of staff, governors and pupils to have their say in the future of their schools.
“Ofsted has rated 82 per cent of council maintained schools as good or outstanding, so it defies reason that councils are being portrayed as barriers to improvement. Ofsted has also praised strong improvement in primary schools, most of which are maintained.
“Unelected Regional Schools Commissioners still lack the capacity and local knowledge to have oversight of such a large, diverse and remote range of schools in our communities, residents will have no way to hold them to account either”.
So now it will be the remote shadowy figure of the Secretary of State who will have to take the decisions. The Department for Education is not famous for getting its budgets right, or on cracking down on academy chains are aren’t very good or who rip off taxpayers.
I wonder how Ministers and individual MPs are going to cope with all the furious parents when they come knocking on their doors?”