In late 2015, Labour-run Merton Council proposed to scrap a number of local Adult Social Care services - including Meals on Wheels and support for carers.
Merton Council's cabinet met on Monday 15th February to consider whether to include these proposals in the Council budget for 2016-17. Following opposition from councillors, a number of concessions have been made, but the vast majority of the cuts are still planned.
Continuing her campaign to stop further social care cuts, Liberal Democrat councillor for West Barnes, Mary-Jane Jeanes spoke at the cabinet meeting, calling on the Labour Council cabinet to use the power it has to increase Council Tax by 2% (roughly £2.30 per household, per month) to help protect these services further.
The full text of her speech is below.
"Thank you, Chair.
Thatcher’s words “there’s no such thing as society” still seem to echo in Conservative thinking, and their cuts to Local Government funding bear witness to that, as does their belated, paltry response to the Syrian refugee crisis … but I’d better stop – I could carry on criticising Tory policies for hours.
But we do have choices and options locally and we must use them wisely and make the decisions that support all our residents best – including some of our most vulnerable neighbours. This is our duty.
While Councillor Allison’s comments tonight about Crossroads and the £1.3million fund he proposes are welcome - and whatever our views on our national Government – we still cannot afford not to use the 2% Social Care precept that is available.
I do not believe it is right to cut Adult Social Care services that could be – at least partly - protected, using the 2% precept. People I’ve spoken to tell me they would gladly pay that little bit extra, knowing that it will help support their neighbours’ independence, dignity and quality of life.
I know that freezing Council tax was in your manifesto: well, maybe it was over-optimistic to expect the Tories to continue to give extra cash to Councils, like Merton, that 'froze' council tax – as the Coalition did between 2010-14?
But you – Cabinet members of Merton – can make choices. You can decide whether to ask our residents for a little extra Council Tax or make cuts to the welfare of those we have a duty to help.
Please do not rule out using the Adult Social Care precept to increase Council Tax by 2% to support these services."