The council’s new budget plans for the year involve cuts to domestic and sexual violence services, including the perpetrator programme. A £1.97m reduction in funding for community care services for people with learning disabilities has also been proposed, as well as cuts to the third sector, communities, and equalities budgets.
Greens say these cuts would affect the most vulnerable people in the city, and there are already concerns about the funding being too low for some services to operate effectively. According to recent council reports, service providers for victims of domestic and sexual violence are working at 140% above capacity at times.
A statement from the Greens explains what the cuts will mean for these services:
“Despite assurances from Labour over the future of domestic and sexual violence services in our city, plans are in place to find a £35k ‘saving’ from the already low budget for domestic and sexual violence services. While it is suggested that these changes could mean a modest budget increase, on top of this, the programme for domestic abuse perpetrators will see its funding cut by almost a third. As a city with rising rates of domestic and sexual violence, we need to increase these budgets significantly if we are to meet demand.”
Greens have called on the Labour council to review these proposals and drop plans to reduce funding for domestic and sexual violence services. They also say the council needs to do more to protect vulnerable people in the city.
Green Opposition Finance lead, Councillor David Gibson, commented:
“Local councils face an immense challenge to continue to provide services. Conservative austerity cuts have squeezed council budgets hard, and the squeeze is evident in the Labour Council’s budget plans.
“However, some of the cuts proposed in this latest plan will affect communities already unfairly bearing the brunt of austerity. Our concern is that many services in our city – such as those that support disabled people, or that offer domestic and sexual violence support – cannot absorb more cuts and changes. At a time when demand for these services continues to rise, we urge Labour to look again at their funding plans.”
“We also want to see a budget that responds to the climate emergency, the housing and homelessness crisis and the needs of our community and local organisations. We hope that Labour will look again at their proposed cuts and that come February, they will value our contributions and support any of our progressive amendments.”
Green Party Councillor Phélim Mac Cafferty, who has also expressed concern over the impending cuts to community services for vulnerable people, said:
“Greens are granted only six amendments to the budget, and we know our city faces important challenges: of housing and homelessness, supporting the vulnerable and tackling the climate crisis. It’s clear that 10 years of Conservative government has hit the poorest and most vulnerable the hardest. Looking ahead to 5 more years under a Tory government, our concern is for our communities, who must be protected as much as possible from the devastating impact of cuts.”
Councillors are set to vote on these plans at the end of February.