Council tax rise ‘to help services for vulnerable’

By Tony Earnshaw
Local Democracy Reporter

COUNCIL tax in Kirklees WILL go up as the authority continues to struggle with the “massive onslaught” of austerity.

In last week’s Press, Tory leader David Hall slammed the council’s planned 2.99 per cent tax hike.

Now Council leader Shabir Pandor says money raised by the increase – just below the threshold set by central government – will be pumped into services to protect the most vulnerable.

The increase forms part of the Labour-run authority’s latest budget, which will be put to a meeting of the full Council on February 13 for approval.

It comes as the Local Government Association (LGA) warns that some council services nationally will be swallowed up by an £8bn black hole in funding by 2025.

In outlining the tax rise at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, Coun Pandor (Lab, Batley West) said he hoped all political groups in Kirklees would support it.

“One thing that is not up for negotiation is the bottom line on the money that we’re going to get into the council,” he said.

“It is a budget that is balanced and will put something back into our communities.”

The increase will net the council £5.2m. That equates to a £29.21 rise for Band A homeowners, for whom bills will rise from £977.18 to £1,000.39.

It is expected there will be further increases over the following two years, though at the lower level of 1.99 per cent. That would raise another £3.6m each year.

Coun Pandor added: “Let’s just be very, very clear. Over the last 10 years we’ve been hit year-on-year by a massive onslaught on local government.

“Kirklees has actually lost 60p of every pound that it gets from national government. Although Theresa May’s government says that austerity has stopped, make no mistake: places like Kirklees will continue to face the brunt of Tory austerity.

“Having said that, I am upbeat in terms of this budget.

“What we are proposing is to protect our most vulnerable, protect services and put money back into older peoples’ services, especially around dementia and people coping with dementia.

“It also looks at putting major capital resources into our road infrastructure.”

Kirklees has lost around £150m in government funding since 2010.

Over the same period, it has made cuts totalling £183m, with £54m of that in 2017-18.

The LGA cautioned that some councils “are being pushed to the brink” by what it described as an unprecedented loss of funding and an ongoing surge in demand for services.

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