Labour councillors in South Gloucestershire have slammed the authority’s ruling Conservatives for targeting the poorest when making budget savings. The Tory-dominated Policy & Resources Committee yesterday endorsed a budget that included a U-turn on paying Council staff at least at the Living Wage Foundation rate, a council policy since 2013. Instead, the affected staff will in future be paid at George Osborne’s lower “living wage”, which is really a rebranding of the minimum wage.
Labour moved an amendment to the budget to block this change, but this was voted down by the committee’s Conservative majority.
Labour had put forward a number of budget changes, but they were all defeated by the Conservatives. These included maintaining the welfare grant scheme at its current level, reversing the decision to stop funding nine police Community Support Officers, enhancing economic development work in the areas with the highest deprivation, and increasing capacity for gulley and litter cleaning.
The Leader of Labour’s councillors, Councillor Pat Rooney, says:
“When I saw the Conservative Administration’s budget I was struck by how few initiatives it contained. When it came to making modest savings it seems that Conservative councillors specifically targeted the poorest, by tearing up our Living Wage agreement and tinkering with the welfare grant scheme.
Labour’s modest proposals would have gone a little way in protecting our lowest-paid staff, those in need of crisis welfare, community safety, our economic vitality, young people and our physical environment. Unfortunately the Conservatives had closed their minds to any alternatives, and with this Government’s attitude to funding local councils we can only expect worse to come.”