the Conservative Government expects councils to put an additional 2% charge onto council tax bills from April.
This follows on from them cutting 60p in every £1 of Government funding that councils across the country receive.
In Nottingham that means our city now receives over £100million less Government funding every year than it did back in 2011. That equates to a loss of Government funding of £529 per Nottingham household.
In fact it was one of the first acts of the new Chancellor to add half a billion pounds onto council tax bills by way of this adult social care precept, which means that the additional money raised is to be spent on care services for the elderly, vulnerable children and disabled people.
There are a few problems with the Governments approach:
- It’s short termism at its very worst – for 2 years councils have had promise after promise of new Government policies to properly fund care services for older people. The need for those services is growing yet the funding for councils has been reducing. This causes a funding gap for many councils who have adult social care responsibilities.
- It’s unfair – areas with the highest need tend to be local authorities in poorer parts of the country. Those happen to be the areas that can raise the least additional funding from a council tax increase. It breaks down like this – in places like Nottingham, Hull and Liverpool most older people are not wealthy enough to fund their own care in older age so the council has to fund it. In places like Surrey, Sussex and Buckinghamshire most older people are wealthy enough to fund their own care when they need it. But guess what – it’s the areas with the least demand on the council who can raise the most by increasing council tax. So to put it bluntly when Nottingham, Hull and Liverpool add 1% to their council tax they might raise around £3 per head. When councils in Surrey, Sussex and Buckinghamshire do the same the raise over double that amount per person. So by failing to redistribute funding based on the needs of local populations the Government is making the inequality even worse.
- It’s hard pressed families that face yet again higher council tax bills. Council tax is not progressive, it does not take account of income, it does not take account of ability to pay in the same way that income tax does. So people on low wages who are already struggling to make ends meet will pay 2% more and a multi millionaire with a very highly paid job or business income will pay 2% more. A Tory tax if ever I saw one.
I hope that City Councillors in opposition parties can see this for what it is. We in the Labour Group certainly can – Unfair, short termism that doesn’t actually provide the funding that’s needed, where it’s needed. I also hope that we can have cross party support to join Labour Councillors in our lobbying of Government to deal with the huge funding gaps that now exist.
Council tax increases alone cannot meet the cost demand for services or close the funding gap or begin to deal with inequalities between different parts of the country.
The Association of Directors of Adult Social Services ADASS say that councils now have a funding gap of £3.6billion in adult care services
The Children’s Society has concluded that by 2025 councils will have a £3 billion funding gap for children’s services.
Contrary to some statements I’ve heard this is not a new Conservative Government. It’s the same group of Tory MPs that have presided over austerity and funding cuts for the last decade. They have created the inequality, they have unfairly increased council tax bills and they have created the huge gaps in funding that affect towns and cities across the country. It’s about time they dealt with the problems they’ve created.
Cllr Sam Webster,
Portfolio Holder for Finance, Growth and the City Centre