Less spin, more action - Liberal Democrats call for extra £338,000 to help combat Climate and Ecological Emergency and cut energy bills in South Gloucestershire

Thermal Image of Building

South Gloucestershire Council’s Liberal Democrat Opposition have unveiled their proposed amendment to the administration’s budget.

The Liberal Democrats have made combatting the Climate and Ecological Emergency, helping to address the rising cost of living crisis, and reducing the Council’s spending on PR the key focuses of their budget amendments.

The costed Liberal Democrat proposals would fund an additional full time Domestic Retrofit Officer, to help South Gloucestershire residents improve the energy efficiency of their homes – reducing both their energy bills and their carbon foot prints.

The Liberal Democrat proposals also include money for thermal imaging cameras, to be loaned out via the library service to help people understand where heat is lost from buildings and a ringfenced fund of £249,000 for projects tackling the Climate and Ecological emergency.

These proposals would be funded partly from a currently unallocated reserve and partly from a long-term reduction in the Council’s Strategic Communications budget.

Announcing the proposals, Councillor Claire Young, Liberal Democrat Leader of the Opposition on South Gloucestershire Council, said:

“Two and a half years ago, South Gloucestershire Council declared a Climate Emergency. Since then we have become concerned that the administration has not given the emergency the priority it needs. While they chase headlines, there’s not enough action.

“We welcome any extra spending on tackling the Climate and Ecological Emergency, but there is a lot more to do if we are to meet the ambitious target of reaching net zero by 2030 that all three parties agreed to in 2019.

“What we are proposing is a costed amendment, that helps to rebalance the Council’s priorities away from self-promotion and towards action that helps cut carbon emissions and people’s fuel bills.

“I hope the Conservative administration and the opposition Labour group will recognise that, at a time when people are struggling, prices are rising and action on the climate and ecological emergency is growing more urgent, we have to be clear what our priorities are.”

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Conservatives have forgotten 10 thousand fraud victims in Avon & Somerset

Cybercrime

The Liberal Democrats have accused the Government of forgetting victims of fraud in South Gloucestershire after senior Conservative Ministers overlooked fraud and computer misuse offences when making false claims on falling crime.

South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats have also called on the local Conservative MPs - Luke Hall, Jack Lopresti and Chris Skidmore - to apologise to the thousands of people in the area who fell victim to fraud last year.

There were 10,469 fraud and computer misuse offences referred to Avon & Somerset last year - up 16.5% on the year before, analysis by the Liberal Democrats reveals. This is the equivalent of 28 cases each day across Avon & Somerset. These victims are part of the four million people across England and Wales who were duped by fraudsters and online scammers last year.

It comes after the UK Statistics Authority last week officially rebuked Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Home Secretary Priti Patel for misleadingly claiming that crime had fallen, following a letter of complaint by Liberal Democrat Home Affairs spokesperson Alistair Carmichael. Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng then claimed this weekend that fraud isn’t something people experience in their day-to-day lives.

Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition Group on South Gloucestershire Council, Claire Young, said:

“Conservative ministers are causing immense hurt to fraud victims in South Gloucestershire by dismissing this cruel crime. Many people around here have lost their life savings to remorseless scammers and suffered huge financial and emotional harm.

“The 10 thousand victims of fraud in Avon & Somerset last year deserve a proper apology, not only from our local Conservative MPs, but from the Prime Minister himself. This government has to start taking their plight seriously.”

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37 thousand patients in the North Bristol NHS Trust area waiting to start treatment

Southmead Hospital

The latest stats from NHS England, published in January, reveal that 37,297 patients in the North Bristol NHS Trust - which serves South Gloucestershire - are waiting to start treatment. 

The statistics show that some 11,310 patients have been left waiting over 18 weeks after their referral to treatment, while 2,128 have been waiting over a whole year. 

Nationally, the figures show that 6 million people are on NHS waiting lists – a number that has doubled since 2015. This has led to the Liberal Democrats slamming the Conservatives for putting in-fighting ahead of the health crisis the country faces. 

Commenting, Claire Young, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition Group on South Gloucestershire Council said: 

“It is beyond disappointing to see the Government sit on their hands and fail to publish this much-needed plan because of internal Conservative Party fighting. 

“These statistics show that 37 Thousand patients across the North Bristol NHS Trust area are being left to suffer because the Government can't seem to get its ducks in a row and publish their plan. 

“Residents have played their part in protecting the NHS and now they deserve better. At the very least the Government should start the process to help the thousands of people left stranded on huge waiting lists in South Gloucestershire.”

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19 thousand “squeezed middle” families in South Gloucestershire to receive no help with soaring energy costs

Thermostat

Over 19 thousand “squeezed middle” families in South Gloucestershire won’t receive any help with soaring energy bills, analysis by the Liberal Democrats has revealed.

The Government is only offering a Council Tax rebate on households in council bands A-D. This means households in bands E-F across the country will not receive this support to help cope with soaring energy bills.

A staggering 19,170 households in South Gloucestershire are in Bands E and F, making up 15.6% of homes in the area. This is above the national average of homes in Bands E and F across England and Wales.

The figures are based on analysis of official council tax data by the Liberal Democrats, who warned that the Conservatives are abandoning the “squeezed middle” and leaving families in South Gloucestershire out in the cold.

The party has set out a “cost of living rescue plan” that would save struggling families in South Gloucestershire nearly £1,000 each this year. This would include doubling and expanding the Warm Home Discount, scrapping the planned National Insurance tax hike and ensuring low-income families can access cheaper broadband deals.

The Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition Group on South Gloucestershire Council, Claire Young, said:

“Thousands of families in South Gloucestershire facing skyrocketing energy bills have been left out in the cold by the Conservatives.

“This plan is a betrayal of the squeezed middle, who face a triple whammy of rising mortgage costs, soaring energy bills and unfair tax hikes. 

“This could be the final straw for households who are drowning in endless increases to their monthly bills.

“The Liberal Democrats' rescue plan would save struggling families up to £1,000 this year. We are demanding that the Conservatives drop their unfair tax hike, and focus on tackling the cost of living crisis instead of making it worse."

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Energy price hike: Lib Dems set out cost of living rescue package, to save struggling families in South Gloucestershire almost £1,000

Gas Meter

The Liberal Democrats have set out a “cost of living rescue plan” that would save thousands of struggling families in South Gloucestershire nearly £1,000 this year.

It comes after Ofgem announced a crippling rise to people’s heating bills, with the energy price cap set to soar by 54% to £1,971 in April. 

Energy bills for homeowners in South Gloucestershire are forecast to soar by an estimated £632 per household in April, according to analysis by the Liberal Democrats. Meanwhile, broadband bills are set to rise by 9.3% with inflation at its highest rate in almost thirty years.

The Liberal Democrats warned that Rishi Sunak's proposals to deal with soaring energy bills will just be "spreading the pain over the coming years" while clobbering local families with tax hikes.

The cost of living rescue package being proposed by South Gloucestershire Liberal Democrats includes taking £300 off struggling families’ heating bills by doubling and expanding the Warm Home Discount, funded through a “Robin Hood” tax on the super profits of oil and gas companies. The party would also scrap the planned National Insurance tax hike being introduced by the Conservatives in April, and ensure low-income families can access cheaper broadband deals.

As many as 13,768 households in South Gloucestershire would stand to benefit from the full package of support, saving them up to £975 each a year. 67,032 households would save up to £636 thanks to the scrapping of the National Insurance hike and the Stealth Tax on the income tax personal allowance. 13,768 poorer pensioners would receive the expanded Warm Home Discount while 9,293 struggling families would gain access to cheaper broadband deals, helping them cope with the cost of living crisis.

In total, the package represents savings of £54,212,139 across South Gloucestershire for 94,048 households feeling the pinch.

Claire Young, Leader of the Liberal Democrat Opposition Group on South Gloucestershire Council, said:

“Energy bills are going through the roof, forcing families in our community to choose between eating and heating. But all the Conservatives are doing is clobbering people with an unfair tax hike and spreading the pain over the coming years.

“South Gloucestershire deserves better than Conservative MPs missing in action, more concerned with their own political career than helping families struggling to pay the bills.

“The Liberal Democrats’ cost of living rescue plan would wipe up to £1,000 off the bills of 94 thousand struggling families in South Gloucestershire, by scrapping April’s tax hike, offering support to the most vulnerable, and insulating homes to slash energy bills in the long term.

“We are fighting for a fair deal for people in our community who are being let down by a Conservative Government that is taking them for granted.”

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