Government ‘outsourcing’ cuts responsibility, claim Calderdale Labour politicians

The Government is “outsourcing” tax rises to local councils to avoid any responsibility for cuts to services, claim Calderdale Labour politicians.

Saturday, 20th November 2021, 12:00 pm
Savings are needed in Calderdale

The result of this, says Cabinet member for Resources, Coun Silvia Dacre (Lab, Todmorden) in a motion she urges councillors to support, is residents with least disposable cash having to pay an increased Council Tax tab Labour argues the Government should be picking up.

The motion, which will be debated by councillors when the full Calderdale Council meets next week, is highly likely to be challenged by the authority’s Conservative group.

Coun Dacre’s motion says: “Government claims that council spending power will increase over the next three years are hollow because this can only be achieved by councils like Calderdale increasing Council Tax by three per cent per annum.

“The Government is outsourcing tax rises and shunting costs onto local people to avoid responsibility for cuts in services.”

The Labour group is urging councillors to back the motion to ask the authority’s Chief Executive, Robin Tuddenham, to write to Chancellor of the Exchequer Rishi Sunak calling on him to acknowledge a “shortfall in real funding” for local authorities.

It also calls for Mr Sunak to move away from what the Labour group says are short-term piecemeal handouts for restricted purposes, to reinstate general grant funding based on an objective formula for assessing need, to support the Levelling Up agenda by ending competitive bidding between councils for funding and to “give local people the power through the ballot box to decide how councils spend their money.”

Coun Dacre says there are some welcome announcements in the Chancellor’s recent Spending Review but these fall “very far short”.

She says Calderdale’s share of the Government’s £4.8 billion additional grant funding for councils over the next three years is likely to be around £5 million a year but cites statements from the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the Local Government Association that this is less than half the amount needed, arguing this will “barely leave councils at a standstill.”

Councillors have previously been warned the council needs to find an additional £8.5 million savings – likely to mean service cuts – by 2024-25.

Coun Dacre says the council has already made savings of £115 million compared to what it could spend in 2010 and reduced its workforce by a third, spending most of its money paying for statutory responsibilities providing adults’ and children’s social care.

Local Labour politicians have blamed austerity for service cuts, while senior Conservative Coun Stephen Baines (Northowram and Shelf) has often counter-argued that austerity has been necessary because of debt run up by the last Labour Government.

The full Calderdale Council meets from 6pm next Wednesday, November 24, at Halifax Town Hall, when councillors are also asked to approve the council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy, as well as endorse Cabinet’s recommendations over policy areas ranging from housing strategy to equality objectives.

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