Lib Dems and Tories on Walsall council joined together last night to vote through a budget that will reduce social care in the borough by £22 million over three years.
The five Lib Dems at the crucial budget setting meeting also supported the Tories in voting down a Labour amendment instructing council officers to target remaining resources on the hardest hit groups and communities.
Labour opposition leader Cllr Tim Oliver condemned the move by the Lib Dems who he said had broken every promise they had made to voters; “For a long time we have said the cuts are going too far too fast. This budget means that Walsall council have made cuts that will amount to 30% of the Social Care base budget, which was £78 million in 2010/11.
This Tory council is pushing through the coalition government’s attacks on the elderly, disabled and most vulnerable and the Lib Dems joined them, and then went further by blocking our amendment.
You can’t simply pretend to be able to make these levels of cuts by ‘efficiency savings’, you can only do it by impacting on services to vulnerable people.”
Walsall Council has lost in excess of 30% of its revenue budget since 2010 amounting to a cumulative loss of over £84 million to date.
Labour councillors refused to vote for the budget which failed to reveal the detail and consequence of cuts on services.
Labour members were able to discover that the council is planning to cut just under £500,000 on tackling youth crime while the government cuts the numbers of frontline police.
They also highlighted Tory plans to spend a £1 million on a refurbishment of the town hall and continued funding of the council’s £950,000 communications unit.
Walsall Labour promised that if it is elected to run the authority at May’s elections it will review the budget root and branch.
Cllr Oliver said: “While the most needy in the borough are suffering these attacks from both the Conservatives and Lib Dems, we as a group simply can’t stand by and doing nothing. We may find our hands tied by the government cuts but we can and will make supporting the hardest hit groups and communities our priority.”