Lib Dems brand Conservative budget “deceptive” over plans to cut adult social care, despite putting the council tax precept up
South Gloucestershire’s Conservative Cabinet yesterday voted in favour of a budget plan which will see millions of pounds stripped from services to care for the most vulnerable in our communities while, at the same time, putting up the council tax precept intended to fund such services.
South Gloucestershire Lib Dem spokesperson for Adult Social Care, Cllr Maggie Tyrrell said: “When residents next get their council tax bills, and see that the adult social care precept has gone up by 3%, they might reasonably expect that that means that there will be an increase in the budget for adult social care. But the reality is that the Conservatives are giving to social care with one hand and taking away more with the other. The increased precept is expected to bring in £4 million a year, but the Conservatives plan to cut the annual adult social services budget by over £6 million by 2022.”
South Glos Lib Dem Deputy Leader Cllr Claire Young said: “Ultimately, these cuts are the fault of the Conservative Government’s Budget, supported by South Gloucestershire’s three Conservative MPs. South Gloucestershire’s Tory councillors defend the budget and say that we must all “live within our means” – but that’s easy to say when they are not the ones who will face the sharp end of these cuts. Local residents might begin to ask what the point of having a Conservative Council and three Conservative MPs is, if they seemingly have no influence on Government and obediently accept cuts to the most vulnerable in our society.”
Recorded Crime statistics released today have shown a rise in serious criminal offences across England and Wales, with violent crime and sexual offences both seeing big increases in the year up to September 2017. Across Avon & Somerset, there has been a huge surge in possession of weapons offences, up 34% on the previous year compared to a 26% increase nationally.
South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Communities, Cllr Claire Young, said: “These figures are truly shocking and come after years of cuts to police numbers and funding under Theresa May. When she became Home Secretary, there were 3085 full time police officers in Avon & Somerset, by 2016, there were just 2483 – a cut of over 600 officers.
“The increase in serious crime we are now seeing is the consequence of Conservative underinvestment in our police. The Home Office grant to Avon & Somerset Police has seen a real terms cut this year of £3.21million meaning that the Conservatives continue to fail our police officers and the victims of crime.”
Lib Dem Home Affairs Spokesperson, Ed Davey MP, said: “Police forces are continually being asked to do more with less by Ministers, yet it is the public that are having to cope with the consequences. Amber Rudd must take these shocking crime figures to Number Ten and demand extra money from the Treasury so we can properly resource our police and start to reverse this appalling trend.”
On Saturday, Claire Young, Thornbury Councillors and other Liberal Democrats braved the rain to find out people's concerns in the new development Thornbury Fields. We were delighted to hear that people enjoy living in the town and we are now following up the concerns raised.
South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrat councillors have been left unimpressed by suggestions that Yate Minor Injuries Unit (MIU) should continue to turn patients away at irregular times in order to manage its workload. Sirona, which manages the MIU, has been trialling this procedure over the past few months, and claims that it has resulted in a better and more efficient service.
South Glos Lib Dem Deputy Leader, Cllr Claire Young, said: “While turning away patients to manage workload may produce a better service as far as MIU’s managers are concerned, it’s hardly better for the patients who find themselves having to go elsewhere. We know patients travel from a wide area to use the MIU so it’s vital they know whether the service is open before they set out.
“We have surveyed local residents about their experience of the MIU and there is clearly confusion about the service on offer. Some residents thought that the MIU would treat minor illnesses. Many are unaware of the minor injuries services on offer at local GP practices or believe they will face the same delays they do when trying to book a GP appointment. We believe local health managers should focus their efforts on improving public awareness rather than adding to the confusion through early closures at the MIU.”
Lib Dem Health Spokesperson Cllr Sue Hope, said: “Yate MIU is a well-liked and well used service. Instead of viewing the high use of the MIU as a problem, we have suggested that local health managers look at ways to increase the level of capacity and range of services available there, to meet demand. Ultimately though, if we want more services, the local NHS needs more funding. I hope that our local Conservative MP will join us in calling for the Government to stop their unjustifiable cuts to our local NHS.”
The news that North Bristol NHS Trust (NBT) have given the nod to developer Redrow to put in a planning application on the former Frenchay hospital site has called into question the future of the Thornbury Hospital site. Assurances were previously given that both sites would be used for community health and care facilities.
Thornbury Councillor Maggie Tyrell said: “We were told in November that the future requirements for health and care facilities at Frenchay and Thornbury were under review and that recommendations would be made by the Spring. We know now that, by that time, NBT were already in talks with Redrow about developing housing across much of the Frenchay site. This planning application pre-judges the outcome of the review, and raises the questions as to whether the Thornbury site will also be targeted for housing development.”
Fellow Thornbury Councillor, Shirley Holloway, said: “I have asked representatives from NBT directly if they intend to turn the Thornbury Hospital site over to developers, as appears to be happening at Frenchay. They assure me that they have no such plans, and that they remain committed to providing health and care facilities at both Frenchay and Thornbury. However, we remain concerned that, with the local NHS so strapped for cash, at least some of the Thornbury site may end up being turned over to developers.”
Deputy Leader of South Glos Lib Dems, Claire Young, said: “It is outrageous that the NBT are considering allowing houses to be built on land that was supposed to be set aside for community health facilities before they’ve worked out how to provide those facilities. Ultimately, however, it’s not the NBT who are to blame here, but the Conservative Government that has left the local NHS chronically short of money.
“The Lib Dems believe that we should raise income tax by a penny on the pound give the NHS has the money it needs, so that health managers can concentrate their efforts on improving services, rather than constantly having to look for ways to raise extra money.”