The scale of the challenges facing local government cannot be understated, with the twin pressures of rising demands and continuing Tory central government cuts eating into limited resources. Enfield is no different.
According to the council’s own figures, they are required to make net cuts of £18 million in this year - greater than their combined net spending on Housing Services, Leisure, Culture, Libraries, Parks and Open Spaces. This is in addition to £178 million in cuts since 2010.
The Enfield Liberal Democrats appreciate the scale of the challenge facing the council. We also recommend all Enfield residents fill out the consultations online, to ensure their voices are heard. We call on the Council to prioritise services to the most vulnerable and their families.
However, we believe that while central government has failed local services, this does not mean Enfield’s councillors can escape responsibility, and we continue to have doubts about the efficacy of the Council’s consultation process.
Firstly, the council must beware of false economies. Cuts to services such as road maintenance, public health, and crime prevention can, in the long run, cause greater problems that require greater public intervention. The consultation is focused entirely on the short-term budgetary picture. This does not make for sound fiscal planning, and means that respondents to the consultation are not acting with full information.
This is particularly concerning for those who remember last year’s proposed - and thankfully abandoned - changes to night-time allowance for carers. The Labour Council proposed measures that would have left carers up to £1400 a year worse off. In addition to its unfairness, the proposal was shortsighted. It would have meant many families would have been left financially unable to contribute night-time care. The Council would therefore have had to assume full responsibility, and costs, in the long run, could have increased. The Enfield Liberal Democrats joined the successful campaign against this measure.
Secondly, the consultation process does not reveal what, if any, investment and revenue options they are considering. Enfield residents should be able to see what new revenue and investment strategies are being considered at the local level, and weigh them against any cuts. This is in the council’s interests too - a more forthright process would give enterprising residents the information needed to provide new ideas for the council to consider, as well as increase awareness of how local government is funded.
The consultation process is open until the 8th of Jan.