PLANS to slash millions of pounds from Portsmouth’s public services and raise council tax bills by 3.99 per cent were approved – despite pleas for alternative ways to save and spend cash.
Residents will see their first council tax increase in three years, following the agreement at yesterday’s full council debate.
If residents find themselves victims of these hate crimes, it can be very intimidating, distressing and an isolating place to be.Resident Shefali Uddin
It means people living in a band B property – the most common tax bracket in the city – would see the proportion of their bill set by the council rise from £911.19 a year to £947.63.
The council says two per cent of the increase is to be spent covering spiralling costs in the adult social care services and go towards paying an improved national living wage for care workers.
Meanwhile £11m of savings in the authority’s revenue budget – covering day-to-day running costs – were agreed after provisionally being signed off by the full council in December last year.
It means the loss of around 100 council jobs, cuts to bus subsidies, the end of a hate crime unit, reductions in support for substance and alcohol misuse and grants for community centres being scaled back.
During the debate, campaigners spoke of their concerns.
Resident Shefali Uddin warned ethnic minority groups are ‘vulnerable’ to hate crime attacks at a time when there has been a surge in ‘far right’ groups in the city.
She said: ‘If residents find themselves victims of these hate crimes, it can be very intimidating, distressing and an isolating place to be.’
Steve Bonner, vice-chair of Portsmouth Pensioners’ Association, questioned ‘what the plan was for Portsmouth’.
He criticised the council for taking £1.5m it hasn’t used and plough it into capital projects – such as roads, schools and other builds – and not use it to protect the vulnerable and elderly.
Mr Bonner added the association would watch closely to ensure a proportion of council tax went on social care.
Meanwhile, the council’s £12.9m capital programme, which included a range of projects such as a state-of-the-art traffic light signal system and the creation of around 400 new school places, was approved. Portsmouth Cycle Forum pleaded for cash to be set aside for its ‘A City to Share’ strategy to improve roads for cyclists and all road users. The Lib Dems proposed in an alternative budget that £300,000 be set aside for the scheme, but that was turned down.