Labour 'bitterly disappointed' as Tories and Lib Dems vote down

Peter Dowd

Sefton Council's Labour leader Cllr Peter Dowd said he was bitterly disappointed that Tories and Lib Dems on Sefton Council voted down a proposal to conduct an audit into the impact of government's budget on pensioners in Sefton.
Cllr Dowd proposed the motion at the full council meeting last Thursday to conduct a detailed study into the impact of the Tory-Lib Dem government's budget on pensioners here in the borough.
Hidden amongst the detail of George Osborne's budget last month, was a new 'granny tax', the end of universal bus passes for older people, cuts in support for disabled people, the introduction of a new 'bedroom tax' and cuts to the winter fuel allowance.
Cllr Dowd said while the 50p tax rate was slashed for the country's millionaires, the Tory-Lib Dem government was paying for the millionaire's tax cut by hitting pensioners.
Cllr Dowd's Motion to last Thursday's Full Council meeting was:

Following the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Budget Statement on 21 March 2012 it is clear that
most people, other than the wealthiest, have been badly affected. In particular, older people appear
to be the latest victims of the Tory/Liberal Democrat Government’s economic policy in which
millionaires have their wallets fattened and pensioners have their pockets and purses pinched.
The Government’s abject failure to protect pensioners, working families and young people who are
suffering to give the very wealthy more alongside further attacks in the form of the “granny tax”,
means-testing of older persons’ bus passes, cuts in support for disabled people, the “bedroom tax”
and cuts in the winter fuel allowance, are just some of the “financial instruments” used by the Tory/
Liberal Democrat Government to redistribute income to the richest 5%.
The Council resolves to undertake an audit of the effects of the Budget on the senior citizens of
Sefton, publish those results and send a copy to the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
The motion was voted down by the Tories and Lib Dems.
Cllr Dowd said: "I am bitterly disappointed that the Lib Dems and Tories in Sefton voted this down. they clearly don't want to face up to what their own government is doing to our older people.
"We've all seen the headlines following last month's budget, about the 'granny tax' and about the cut in the 50p tax rate for the country's millionaires, but what Sefton Council has now decided to do is to conduct an investigation into the impact of all this on our older people right here in Sefton.
"We already know that throughout the country 14,000 millionaires will be £40,000 better off because of the Tory-Lib Dem budget, and that 4,000,000 pensioners will lose an average £83 per year, while people turning 65 next year will lose up to £322 from their pension.
"We wanted to really drill down and see how many older people in Sefton are going to be worse off because of the measures pushed through in the budget.
"The population in Sefton is 276,213. Of that 63,138 of them are in pensionable age. That's a lot of people who could be struggling to make ends meet following the budget. Just how much they are struggling, we hoped this audit would reveal.
"At the end of which, we planned to pass all of our findings onto George Osborne in the hope that he would see sense and provide the assistance our older people here in Sefton need, instead of cutting away the support in favour of rewarding his wealthy friends and the vast majority of those on the Tory-Lb Dem front bench.
"Although the Lib Dems and Tories voted this down this time, the Labour Group plans to revisit this following May's local election."
Blundellsands and Crosby Labour Action Team leader Veronica Bennett said the impact of the budget on older people has been one of the main issues on the doorstep.
Veronica said: "Older people in Blundellsands and Crosby are obviously concerned about the amount of money they are losing because of the budget.
"A quarter of the population of the ward of Blundellsands is of pensionable age. That's a lot of people who are now losing out because of the granny tax, and because of the plans to cut winter fuel allowance, and because of the plans to remove free bus passes. It all adds up and what it adds up to is misery for lots of older people."
Formby & Ince Blundell Labour Action Team leader Peter Maguire said older people are now feeling the squeeze as money gets tight.
Peter said: "At a time when they should be getting back a little of what they have contributed through their lives, older people are now being hit hard. Many are telling me that they are struggling to make their money stretch.
"We have 3,566 people of pensionable age just in Ravenmeols ward alone. Many of these are only going to find it harder and harder to make ends met, particularly as they are being hit with increased taxes, particularly on empty bedrooms in their family homes. Homes which many of them have lived in all of their lives.
"They rightly feel betrayed and i hope that George Osborne sees sense once Sefton Council send the finding of its report to him."
Maghull & Lydiate Labour Action Team leader Steve Kermode said the 3,252 older people in Park Ward are already struggling as the price of living rockets.
Steve said: "Not only are people in Lydiate and Maghull having to cope with the rocketing cost of living, particularly fuel, but they are now being used as a cash cow for the Tories and Lib Dems to reward the wealthy.
"Older people, and their families, are rightly feeling very angry at the moment."
Maghull Labour Action Team's Lynn Gatherer said older people are being targeted by this government.
Lynn said: "People are struggling already as heating costs are going up, petrol is going up, shopping bills are going up. And to cap it all off, the government is hitting older people with a raft of new taxes and taking away the few benefits which they have worked all of their lives to get.
"One man on the doorstep told me the other day that he had tallied up the total amount he was set to lose out on, and it was more than £400 a year.
"That is a major concern when you consider that come the winter time, many of our older people will be forced to make the choice between eating and heating."
Crosby, Thornton and Hightown Labour Action Team leader John Kelly said older people throughout Manor Ward felt like the government was pick pocketing them.
John said: "Older people tell me that it feels like George Osborne is pick pocketing them. He is stealing hundreds of pounds from some of the most vulnerable and many of those people are right here in Manor Ward.
"I applaud the Sefton Labour Group for proposing this motion. It could have acted as a wake up call to the Chancellor to realise just what damage he is doing to our older people here in Sefton.
"But unsurprisingly, the Tories and Lib Dems locally don't want to face up to the damage their parties are doing and the hurt they are inflicting on our older people."
Aintree, Melling & Maghull Labour Action Team leader Paula Murphy said older people are being betrayed by a government which is looking after the rich at the expense of the elderly.
Paula said: "Older people are already feeling the pinch. This government is making things worse for them, at a time when they should be making it better.
"There's 2,896 people of pensionable age in Molyneux Ward. Each and every one of them is already finding it very difficult because prices keep rising. My fear is that this pushes many of them below the poverty line and they will suffer because of it." 
Number of pensioners per ward:
Sudell - 3,380 (total population 13,215)
Park - 3,252 (total population 12,132)
Blundellsands - 2,717 (total population 11,153)
Ravenmeols - 3,566 (total population 11,976)
Manor - 2,918 (total population 12,827
Molyneux - 2,896 (total population 12,887)

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