Leeds City Council Budget 2014-15: 3. Now for the Good News – a Labour Council working to protect services.

This is the third of a series of posts explaining the Leeds Labour Council’s Budget for 2014-15.

Leeds North West Constituency

Over these past days we’ve brought you the depressing facts of LibDem/Tory Cuts, and their impact on Leeds.
We all need to understand what has been happening to Local Government funding.
We all need to appreciate the long hard road which has brought Leeds to this year’s Council Tax increase.IMG_6177

In the last of our series of posts on the Labour Council’s Budget, we bring you the Good News.
Children and the vulnerable are top of the list – 58.6% of the total Council Budget will be spent on Children’s Services and Adult Social Care.
But in a host of ways, the Labour Council is working to protect and improve life for all its citizens.


All 57 Children’s SureStart Centres have been kept open, and will be kept ope

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Leeds City Council Budget 2014/15: 2. The impact of three years of Coalition Government on Leeds

This is the second of a series of posts explaining the Leeds Labour Council’s Budget for 2014-15.

Leeds North West Constituency

As we reported in our last post, the income available to Leeds City Council has been reduced dramatically over the last three years – since the LibDem/Tory Coalition came into power.IMG_6176

Since 2011/12 Local Government funding has been reduced nationally by 43%.

Here in Leeds, the Council has felt these pressures. In its attempts to meet the tightened situation the Council has been forced to make huge savings.

In this second of our series of posts on the 2014/15 Leeds Budget, we consider what has been forced on the City over the last three years.

The scale of those cuts is such that a rise in Council tax is now necessary.

The Last Three Years

£200m has already been saved.

First by massive staff reductions

– By the end of March 2013, 1850 staff had left the Council, including a quarter of all senior managers

– 406 more staff…

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Leeds City Council Budget 2014-15: 1. We’re Not All In This Together

This is the first of a series of posts explaining the Leeds Labour Council’s Budget for 2014-15.

Leeds North West Constituency

Leeds City Council has set its 2014/15 Budget. It is a budget set in the context of the most ferocious squeeze on Local Government finance in memory.IMG_6177

We are bringing you a series of posts over the next days, to inform you of the situation – and of the decisions the Council has made.

We begin today with the context in which Leeds Labour Council has had to set its budget for 2014/15.

That context points to the political and inegalitarian nature of the Coalition’s cuts.

The National Framework.

Between 2011/12 – 2015/16 local government funding will have been reduced nationally by a staggering 43%.

– this scale of reduction is the largest in the entire public sector. Local Government has taken much, much more than its fair share of the cuts

And it is far from over. The Coalition Government’s deficit reduction plan will continue for another 3 years…

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A long-term answer to deep-seated problems: Ed Miliband tackles the bankers, and sets Osborne’s political agenda.

On 16 January a very interesting article appeared in the Financial Times. It was written by Philip Stephens, associate editor of the FT. And its message was simple and direct: the banking system is – still – broken. ‘The bankers have got away with it. They have seen off politicians, regulators and angry citizens alike … Continue reading A long-term answer to deep-seated problems: Ed Miliband tackles the bankers, and sets Osborne’s political agenda.

Autumn Statement: Losers – The Young, Working Families and Children – and the greenfields of North West Leeds?

How should we react to the autumn statement? Perhaps, as many commentators have said, as a piece of political theatre. It was certainly that – complete with smoke and mirrors. Its big message is – continuing austerity. And it’s becoming clear that for George Osborne, David Cameron and Nick Clegg austerity is an end in … Continue reading Autumn Statement: Losers – The Young, Working Families and Children – and the greenfields of North West Leeds?

‘Labour – the party for ALL children and ALL families – in Leeds and at Westminster’: Alex Sobel.

Leeds North West Constituency

This week has seen significant announcements by both main parties relevant to childcare and families.

In advance of the Tory Party Conference, David Cameron has said he will bring in tax relief for families in 2015.
By this what he means is tax relief for a Tory version of a family – in work, with one wage-earner, a stay-at-home parent, earning enough to benefit from tax-threshold changes. The gender of the working parent is not specified – but in practice this looks too like a return to the old Married Man’s Tax Allowance for comfort. In practice, too, it will likely put money into the hands of men, rather than directly into the hands of women and children.

‘Love is love, commitment is commitment’ says David Cameron
– for married couples with one earner on £40K, but not for married couples with each on £10K;
– except for two thirds…

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Austerity isn’t working, and isn’t worth it – in Leeds North West or anywhere else

Leeds North West Constituency

Wednesday’s Labour Market Statistics looked good – or rather they looked a little better than the run of bad figures for the last three years. And we welcome them – any improvement is to be welcomed, since every single number is a real person, with a real life. And it is real people who have been carrying the burden of this Coalition Government’s austerity programme for too long.

Unfortunately, as we’ve stressed before, even these apparently improving figures hide very real regional variations.

In our own Constituency of Leeds North West the number of those claiming Job Seekers’ Allowance is up by 12% year on the year to July; people claiming JSA for over a year has risen by 20% in that same period. There’s been no change in the number of 18-24 year olds claiming JSA for over 12 months, and in NW Leeds we’ve seen a shocking 113%…

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Yet more on Local Government Finance – Extra Government funding cuts hit Leeds

Leeds North West Constituency

We rather wish we did not have to constantly post on Local Government Funding. It’s the sort of area where, these days, news is usually bad news. But, as we’ve said before, Local Government funding matters to every single one of us. It determines what the Council can and can’t do for us. And, once again, the news is bleak.

It has been revealed this week that Yorkshire councils may have to find further savings of up to £150m as a result of unforeseen Government funding cuts.
Local authorities in the region were already expecting to have to find £300m of savings after Chancellor George Osborne set out his spending plans for the 2015-16 financial year in June.

But details that have now emerged of the way Whitehall-level cuts will feed through to local authorities have left councils in Yorkshire fearing that figure could end up being closer to £450m.

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Arts Funding Crisis in Yorkshire & Humber – we need a strategy for the arts outside London

Leeds North West Constituency

Harriet Harman MP, Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, yesterday demanded that Culture Secretary Maria Miller forge a ‘survival strategy’ for arts and culture outside London as new figures show a funding crisis in Yorkshire and the Humber compared to London.L_9209bc4c-607b-9a14-e134-b5b5e50ee651

Arts Funding comes in three ways – philanthropy, the Arts Council and Local Councils.

Yorkshire and the Humber has been hit in all three.

Figures obtained through a written parliamentary question show that the lion’s share of philanthropy is concentrated in London. Only 2.4% of philanthropic giving went to Yorkshire and the Humber in 2010/2011; 71% went to London. That works out as philanthropic giving of £3.06 per head in Yorkshire and the Humber, compared to £59.52 in London.

New figures also show the Arts Council spends £5.30 per head on arts organisations in Yorkshire and the Humber, compared to £21.33 per head in London…

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Lynton Crosby, Lobbying and NHS privatisation

Leeds North West Constituency

The questions surrounding Lynton Crosby, lobbying and the Coalition’s policies continue to grow – though they are questions David Cameron does not want you to ask.

In an exclusive report based on leaked [ note ‘leaked’] documents the Guardian revealed that

‘The lobbying firm founded by the Tories’ chief election strategist, Lynton Crosby, advised private healthcare providers on how to exploit perceived “failings” in the NHS.’944481_10151493954607411_537161168_n

Linger a moment over that ‘perceived failings’. That doesn’t mean real failings – it means trying to exploit what people have been led to believe are failings. Led to believe by a media whose record on NHS  reporting is abysmal. A media whose recent reporting has involved downright distortion of statistics and reports, like that of Keogh; a media whose reportting emphasizes all the problems, without making clear the impact of Coalition cuts and re-organisation.

The Guardian goes on

“A Crosby Textor source said…

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