WELSH Labour Councillors have today released their alternative budget for Carmarthenshire Council, with additional funds proposed for social care, libraries, museums and tackling mental health in the workplace.
The alternative budget that will be presented to Council on Wednesday sees an additional £500,000 put aside to prevent the proposed cuts to domiciliary care; £21,000 for Parc Howard, Kidwelly Industrial Museum and community libraries; and £100,000 for additional union facilitators to provide support to Carmarthenshire employees.
The additional union facilitators would provide additional support to tackle mental health and stress in the workplace, address the growing issue of presentism and support individuals in sickness and disciplinary hearings.
It is believed that the union facilitators would become cash neutral within three years, with a reduction in sickness due to the increase of support in the workplace.
In addition to these proposals, Welsh Labour will seek to create a ‘Carmarthenshire Changing Places Fund’ with revenue and capital funds being set aside to create Changing Places facilities in Llanelli, Carmarthen, Ammanford, Newcastle Emlyn, Llandeilo and Llandovery.
A campaign led by 21 year old Josh Rosenthal, a Llanelli resident with cerebral palsy, successfully highlighted that standard toilets do not meet the needs of those with disabilities.
The new Changing Places facilities would provide sufficient equipment and space needed for individuals with disabilities such as cerebral palsy, spinal injury, muscular dystrophy, MS and learning disabilities to use public toilets safely and comfortably.
Welsh Labour propose that these services can be cut with a reduction in the use of consultants and external legal firms that is believed to have cost the Council taxpayer £1.3m last year.
Councillor John Prosser, Welsh Labour spokesperson for Finance, stated: “This week we will be presenting our balanced alternative budget to Council, with increase in services with no additional call on taxpayers.
“We are thrilled to see that our campaigns on school meal costs being frozen for another year, a cash increase for hard-pressed schools and a reduction in the salary of the next Chief Executive have all been successful.
“This illustrates that Welsh Labour are leading the way in this Authority, despite being in Opposition.
“Our alternative budget seeks to protect the most vulnerable in society, with additional funds for domiciliary care and our ambitious Changing Places Fund.
“With an increase in demand on our social services department, due to an ageing population, the last thing we should be looking at now is cutting supporting to vulnerable individuals.
“Our budget also provides much needed workplace support for our incredibly hardworking employees that have seen demands on them increase as a result of years of Council cuts.
“This is budget that delivers for every town and village in Carmarthenshire and we hope Council will support it on Wednesday.”
Welsh Labour Leader, Cllr Rob James stated: “I want to thank John and the team for their handwork in creating this alternative budget.
“I am particular proud to see that we have found a way to deliver on our commitment in creating a Carmarthenshire Changing Places Fund.
“Josh and his family are passionate advocates for individuals with disabilities and they are always seeking to breaking down barriers and ensuring that everyone can play a full role in our society.
“These facilities have been needed for far too long and we can no longer wait for this Plaid Cymru-led administration to take leadership on this issue.
“Libraries are also a much needed service, especially in our rural communities. Job seekers and those in receipt of social security rely heavily on our ICT services to engage with Government agencies.
“Rather than continuing to cut this vital service, Welsh Labour are looking to improve our services in libraries with the development of specialist advisors located across the county that would provide advice to those seeking to return to the workplace.
“Welsh Labour’s alternative budget once again illustrates that we have the vision and leadership needed to take Carmarthenshire forward.”