Last week, the Chancellor announced the Budget for the country. It was a Budget to reform the economy, support jobs and growth and take steps to help households and families with the cost of living – including an immediate cut in Fuel Duty.
Like households across the country, the Chancellor had to look at what he’s spending versus what is coming in. A quick look at the £120 million we are spending each and every day on interest payments alone – more than on schools or defence - is enough to confirm he was right to take the bold action needed to get down the budget deficit.
And yet it is critical to stimulate growth in the economy to ensure future prosperity and to take action where possible to help those who are struggling most with the day-to-day cost of living.
So the Chancellor found innovative ways to increase the money coming in such as introducing the Fair Fuel Stabiliser to tax oil companies when the price of oil is high, enabling him to reduce the burden on people at the pump.
The same principles apply when looking at the Budget for Hounslow Council. When faced with the challenge of making cuts to its budget, it should to look for creative ways to either reduce expenditure or increase income.
Instead, in the short term, it has focused on staff and services that can be cut to meet the Budget constraints. Chiswick Day Centre, which provides support and comfort to many of our senior citizens in the Chiswick area, is one such proposed ‘cut’.
The Council proposes to close Chiswick Day Centre, which is the only day centre in my constituency, and transfer those who use its services to Heston – a bus journey of up to 40 minutes for some Chiswick residents, many of whom suffer from dementia.
I agree that Hounslow Council has to balance its books – but is this really the right way to do it? We have an aging population and therefore increasing numbers of senior citizens who will need day centre services. I hope the extended consultation period announced by Hounslow Council will allow a more comprehensive review of Chiswick Day Centre and how we can save it.