SNP and Tory councillors on Dumfries and Galloway Council have been accused of a “vindictive and nasty attack on the vulnerable”, after they supported a range of budget proposals that would have slashed support for vulnerable groups in the region.
The SNP budget- which was voted for by all members of the Council’s Dumfries and Galloway Conservative and Unionist Group at Thursday’s (5 February) meeting of the full council- included plans to scrap the council’s taxicard scheme- which provides discounted travel for the blind and older people with severe mobility problems in the region.
In addition, the SNP budget EXCLUDED a number of measures in the Labour Group budget including:
· A £1m Anti-Poverty fund per year fund to implement the first ever Dumfries and Galloway Anti-poverty strategy.
· Proposals to roll out the Living Wage beyond council staff to encourage the payment of living wage by council contractors
· The establishment of new Family Centres in Lochside Primary in Dumfries, Park Primary in Stranraer, Kelloholm and Annan.
· Introducing School Based Social Workers to identify problems early
· A School Transport fund to support children from low income families with the cost of bus travel to school who are currently just below the cut off distances for free school travel.
· Extra support to adapt homes for those affected by Dementia
· An increase in the Education budget of £1.664m
· A Supporting Learning Budget £108,000 HIGHER in 2015/16 than the SNP proposal, including a £500,000 contingency fund
· A £500,000 increase in the strategic road resurfacing budget
Leader of Dumfries and Galloway Council Ronnie Nicholson, “The Labour Group budget had fairness and supporting the vulnerable at its very heart. The SNP showed their true colours when they tabled their budget at the full council meeting and proposed a nasty and vindictive attack on the most vulnerable”.
“The Taxicard scheme provides a real lifeline for many blind and older people with severe mobility problems in our region yet the SNP and Tories voted to scrap it”.
“They also opposed our proposal for the Living Wage to include council contractors. In a region where we see Scotland’s lowest average wage, the Living Wage will benefit the lives of many people in Dumfries & Galloway and ensure they can live, not just survive on their incomes.
“As a result of the Labour budget being agreed there is extra help for the low paid, for dementia sufferers, we will see Family Centres set up in some of our most deprived communities and the introduction of a £1million anti-poverty fund to protect the most vulnerable. Everyone of these proposals were opposed by the SNP along with their Tory coalition partners”
“There has been a lot of spin from SNP politicians with claims they tried to protect learning support but in reality they voted for a supporting learning budget £109,000 less than the Labour budget for next year and opposed the £1.6 m overall increase in funding for education”.
“It says a lot about the SNP that they had the full support of every single one of the so-called rebel Tory Councillors. They quit to form what they called the real Conservative group because they said their Leader wasn’t right wing or Tory enough. How ironic that the SNP have found a bedfellow in the so called real Tories and voted with them in their attack on the vulnerable”
Dumfries & Galloway Councillors passed the Labour Administration’s budget at the full council meeting on 5 February with 22 votes against 17 votes for the SNP’s budget.