This has without doubt been the most challenging year in the history of North East Lincolnshire, Covid, and the wider social impacts of Covid have come to dominate how we live our lives and how we work as a local authority.

Whilst we always take time to acknowledge those key workers,
volunteers, and other residents simply doing the right thing at this
time, there is no escape from a simple truth, residents who were
vulnerable before the pandemic are now even more so, with
thousands of others, from all walks of life finding themselves,
sometimes for the first time in their lives in financial, physical, or
mental health difficulties.

This budget should reflect not only these urgent challenges, but
moreover, should be a roadmap to the community we want for our
people to live in as we rebuild our social fabric.
It should show ambition, vision, compassion, and most importantly,
leadership, sadly, Mr Deputy Mayor, it does not, it fails on all counts,
This is a budget of retreat, decline, abandonment and failure.
This budget, in many respects is also a milestone, the fine words and
optimism of the Conservative group has now evaporated, and I think
we all know why, the leader himself emphasised the point many
times, that we have a Conservative government over a Conservative
council and all the opportunities therein. The leader called this blue
on blue, which anyone who understands armed forces terminology
will know means to ‘attack your own side’ at last, Mr Deputy Mayor,
we can agree on something.

What has our government done to help us? extra funding? Yes, as
they rightly should have, but, if our Chancellor was serious, he would
be funding every local authority fully, so that those services that
many of us critically really upon would be safe, but what did he do,
offer us and opportunity to increase our spending power by 5%,
meaning, we, like so many other authorities would be backed into a
corner, with a budget that proposes the maximum increase in council
tax for our residents for the next three years, against a backdrop of
declining services, rising unemployment, fear and uncertainty, and,
most concerning of all, forecasts that nationally, child poverty is set
to hit it’s highest level since records began.
This Conservative council has never stood up to this Conservative
government, and likely, never will, but, Councillor Jackson, Councillor
Shreeve, you have picked a very bad time to rollover and have your
tummies tickled.

I cannot and will not support this budget, more to the point I
condemn it, whilst I acknowledge that there are elements that can be
welcomed, fundamentally, it is a declaration of war on ordinary tax
payers within North East Lincolnshire.

Unsurprisingly, there is the ambition to reduce council tax support
further, as if the most vulnerable in our area haven’t suffered
enough, a plan of an eyewatering 50% of council tax demand from
those least able to pay is on the horizon, a devastating thought for
families, those on benefits, and many armed forces veterans, it
disappoints and angers me that every time, every time, hard times
hit, the Tory instinct to put their hand into the pockets of those least
able to pay, and I call shame on the architects of this campaign of
misery.

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