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Difficult choices. But more investment in MK Council budget plans

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Milton Keynes Council’s ruling Labour Group has revealed its draft plans for next year’s council budget, with Labour standing up to austerity and against cuts to services.

MK Council has had to cut over £130m from its spending since 2010 having faced stinging cuts from the Conservative Government and rising demand for services such as social care. This year the council is having to find over £14m to balance the books, with government funding for services falling 34% next year compared to this year.

Tough choices in the proposals include a 2% rise in council tax, an extra 3% increase in the council tax levy for social care, and service cuts to the speed at which some graffiti is cleaned.

The draft budget has proposals to:

· Increase spending on services for rough-sleepers, including providing emergency accommodation and expand the outreach service.

· Invest capital funding to reduce the backlog of road and street sign repairs needed.

 

Despite the cuts the Labour administration has also revealed:

· Weekly bin and recycling collections will continue, one of the last large councils in the UK to provide this service.

· No cuts to libraries; not a single MK library has closed under the Labour administration.

· No increase in standard or premium parking charges for the third consecutive year.

· No cuts to landscaping or street sweeping.

· No cuts to funding for public transport.

· Funding for parish councils and the voluntary sector is safe for another year.

· No children centres are to be closed.

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Cllr Peter Marland, Leader of MK Council said:

MK Council is facing the biggest financial challenge it has ever faced, having had to cut £130m from our budget since 2010, and next year we have to find another £14m. The demand for services such as social care is increasing, the cost of protecting our most vulnerable children is increasing, and because of vicious cuts and disastrous government housing policies, we are having to spend more and more each year picking up the pieces on homelessness. Despite that we know the people of MK have no desire to see their services downgraded if any other way is possible, they expect the Labour administration to deliver and stand up to austerity as best we can.

Cllr Rob Middleton, Cabinet Member for Resources and Innovation said:

Years of cuts have left many our services hollowed out and further cuts are sadly inevitable. However, we are a strong and competent Labour administration that has very clear priorities, and while we don’t turn away from tough choices, the budget also shows that by thinking long term, working with partners and fighting for what we believe, we can stand up to austerity and try and minimise the impact on local services of the cuts imposed on us by a Tory Government.

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Cllr Middleton continued:

We are investing in the things we know are important. There is more money in the budget for homelessness because it is the right thing to do, and there is more capital investment in replacing road-signs as we have an enormous backlog that without action will only get worse. I’m also proud we haven’t closed a single library or children’s centre, we haven’t increased parking charges for a third successive year, there are no cuts to public transport and, really importantly, there are no further cuts to things like grass cutting or street cleaning this year, with our bin collections remaining weekly!

Cllr Marland said:

Sound financial management by a Labour administration means we are able to deliver sound budget proposals for consultation. However without a reversal to national cuts, funding for services such as social care, children’s services and homelessness are on the edge of collapse. Just look at neighbouring Conservative councils who are in financial meltdown.

Cllr Marland concluded:

We don’t deny that many of our choices in this budget are a sticking plaster for the terrible pain national cuts are having on people in Milton Keynes, but we are listening and investing in the things that matter to people, like homelessness, while opposing all the cuts we can.

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