A Liberal Democrat amendment to the Council’s budget meeting that occurred on Monday 23rd February has secure a £1.4m investment into affordable warmth. The cost of this insulation scheme will be repaid through additional savings made through the smarter use of technology by the Council in its working practices.
In Calderdale in 2013 there were 93 excess winter deaths attributed to cold homes. Improving the insulation in homes, particularly those of vulnerable people, will help reduce the number of people suffering in cold homes. It will mean fewer people living in fuel poverty, fewer fossil fuels burnt to heat homes, and more money in residents’ pockets to be spent in our local economy.
The National Institute of Environmental Health and the Building Research Establishment have suggested that targeting the borough’s worst housing with a £1.4m investment programme could save an estimated £4.65m in associated health care costs. At a time when health services are under pressure this is a sensible and pragmatic measure the Council could take to help save lives in Calderdale.
Personally I’m delighted this affordable warmth scheme I have proposed was passed. Around 93 people a year in Calderdale die prematurely as a result of living in cold homes. These people are all someone’s grandparents, friends and relatives. Lives will be saved from this measure, and many more will have their quality of life improved from being lifted out of fuel poverty. It will also reduce the burden of costs placed upon the NHS as prevention is cheaper for the taxpayer than cure.
This simply wouldn’t have happened without all of the support of Calderdale residents who vote Liberal Democrat in local elections. It is a crying shame that Labour failed to back this measure, simply because we proposed it and they did not want to be seen backing a Liberal Democrat amendment. I can’t understand that kind of party political petty mindedness.
Further features that the amended budget passed by Council and supported by the Liberal Democrats will deliver for Calderdale include
- A Council tax freeze.
- A 20% saving in the Council’s energy bills to be achieved through an investment in LED lighting in Council buildings and solar panels.
- All future savings the Council has to make in 2017/18 to be determined by a major public consultation this summer.
In Contrast Labour’s amendment would have meant
- No public Consultation
- Council tax rises in two out of the three next years.
- Money taken out of the road maintenance budget for other Labour priorities
- An £800,000 cut in Children Services in 2017/18
The would have used the money raised from these cuts and Council tax rises on a risky venture of building 150 Council houses, a Town Square in Sowerby Bridge and a waterside park in Mytholmroyd.