This year’s budget was supposed to be easy and simple.
This year, the plan was to announce no budget cuts. And what a day that would have been. To say to residents who rely on council services, and to the staff who provide those services, that there was no need to cut any services or jobs this year.
But the Government put an end to that.
Since the Government decided to play politics with our economy, inflation has risen to a 40 year high, and the Government grants that fund the council have not kept up with the Conservative created cost-of-living inflation we are now all suffering from.
This year the pressures from inflation and pressures on the budget amount to £13.5m extra in social services. Shamefully, the Government have given this council just £7.9m to fund this. While we have had to make tough decisions, such as raising council tax by 4.99% - which is £1.17 a week for the average family - every single penny raised by the council tax rise is going to fund social services, and this is still not enough.
But we’ve worked together to put Portsmouth people first.
Portsmouth Labour Councillors offered local families in need an extra £77,000, which is really good. Local Lib Dem councillors have taken this even further and found an extra £3.8 million to help these families.
On top of maintaining the basics like weekly bin-collections and food waste recycling, we are also putting vital money into improving play parks around the city so our children have things to do.
We are also investing in a brand-new swimming pool and community hub, funding extra CCTV to tackle ASB hotspots, planting more trees and a gave boost of £265,000 to making cycling easier in Portsmouth.
Councils around England are going bankrupt, Portsmouth stands strong.
While neighbouring councils like Conservative-led Bournemouth and Hampshire, and Labour-led Southampton are facing bankruptcy, independent assessors reviewed the council and reported how well the Liberal Democrats are looking after the council finances.
This is a strong budget in really difficult times and focuses on making Portsmouth a greener and fairer place to live. This is the first time in at least 30 years that all of the parties on the council backed the Liberal Democrat budget proposals.