First posted THURSDAY, 20 DECEMBER 2012
This year’s cuts to council budgets has been announced and councils in the north have again been targeted disproportionately for cuts.
One of the most striking examples of gross unfairness is the difference between Bolsover and Uttesford, in the leafy Saffron Walden constituency where Tory stalwart Sir Alan Haselhurst has been the MP since 1977. Uttesford council will be given an budget increase of 6.4% this year. Contrast that with Bolsover, where a very different long standing MP has served since 1970 – Bolsover Council, in Dennis Skinners’ constituency, will be cut by a staggering 8.8%.
To put this outrageous inequality into perspective, the average cut is 1.7%. The average cut seems like a small percentage but in money terms it is a big very deal. My own council County Durham is being cut by an extra £50 Million pounds in the coming year, this is on top of cuts imposed last year. The new settlement leaves councils with no choice but to sack workers and cut essential services.
Councils in northern rural areas where business rate incomes are lower, will be particularly hit by the Tory idea that councils should make their own money rather than looking to central government. One idea that has been suggested is that libraries sell coffee. I don’t want my council to sell me a Latte in the Library. I can buy coffee from a small independently owned cafe near the Library. I want the the council to house the homeless and care for the vulnerable.Tories like to speak of Councils being less reliant on funds from central government. This would be a persuasive argument if it wasn’t for the fact that it is our money anyway collected from our taxes, we just want a bit of it redistributed, for our local council to spend on essential services.
We are not all in this together. The Tories give millionaires a tax cut to encourage them to choose to pay more tax, while working families have tax credits removed. Councils in the southern counties have their budgets protected while the northern towns are decimated. We have seen it all before from Tory governments, but these posh boys act with impunity; ‘Hitting people they will never meet and whose lives they will never understand’(1)
(1) Ed Miliband – PMQs – 13/12/1