We Greens are committed to campaigning for a more equal city, and we oppose the cuts being imposed on Local Authorities.
We say more tax needs to be raised from tax-avoiders and businesses which can most afford it, rather than cutting benefits for the most vulnerable.
When February’s budget proposal included cutting the Homelessness Prevention Fund (£280,000), we were horrified. This vital fund helps people in danger of becoming homeless. Once people become homeless, problems multiply. Not only do the homeless need increasing financial support from the council, but also their distress and mental anguish is intensified.
The Greens decided the homelessness prevention fund should be saved. However, in order to do so, savings from other parts of council spending would need to be made.
The only service that would have saved a comparable amount of money was the Adult Leisure Learning service. At a time when £35 million is being cut from the budget, we decided to commit to protecting the most vulnerable, that is, in this case, the homeless. Leisure learning is beneficial especially to combat social isolation in the predominantly older (over 60) learners who use the service. It is of high quality and mainly benefits residents from the BS9 area. We hope that in the long term the service can be maintained, possibly through becoming a third sector organisation which would be eligible for grants.
Following our proposal to save the homelessness fund, Bristol Lib Dems came up with a new plan to take the money out of the council’s reserves to fund both services.
Although it is not a long-term solution (unlike using the funds from Adult Leisure Learning Services), we decided to withdraw our amendment. In an ideal world, the state would fund adult learning and also look after the most vulnerable. In the current political climate, sadly some services, such as adult learning services, may become a luxury.