Monday, 8 October 2012
"This Council Tax Freeze Deal Sucks" Says Leader Of The Lib Dems In Local Government
"This freeze deal might look good as a headline but it's a sop that'd force services to be closed or cut and stores up more problems for the future.
"It's more of the same sort of headline grabbing, short-term, nonsensical financing that we got from Labour that got Britain into this mess to start with.
"A little scratching under the surface reveals what a poor deal for communities this is. Councils want to be able to protect services for children and those with care needs - but won't be able to do so if they take up this bribe. In choosing whether to take the freeze deal councils will find themselves between the devil and the deep blue sea. I'm sure Lib Dem ministers have done all they can to make this less painful for communities - and we're grateful for their efforts.
"It's totally hypocritical to impose a 2% cap - and that's what the 'threshold' is - knowing that councils can't afford to hold referendums on council tax increases: that's not localism, that's another return to the dark days of centralist Labour.
"If localism means anything it means locally elected representatives deciding the level of council tax - not some out of touch bureaucrat in Whitehall who's never set foot in your area but gets to hold the purse-strings.
"Local government is making the biggest contribution to reducing the national deficit of any other part of the public sector by finding massive savings while protecting their residents but yet again the government wants to force them to continue doing so with one hand tied behind their backs.
"More cuts, storing more problems for the future, more central control: this council tax freeze deal sucks."
Local government as sector is in year 2 of a 4 year government programme of cuts that'll take out 28% of its funding.
The Local Government Association says funding for services such as libraries and leisure centres will fall by 90% as a result of rising adult social care and other compulsory costs, meaning many could disappear by the end of the decade. Without urgent report of how adult social care is paid for, the LGA says, a £16.5bn shortfall between service costs and funding would exist by 2020.