A COUNCIL can only spend what it brings in.
In 2016/17, 45 per cent of the council budget comes from council tax. Seventeen per cent from business rates and 38 per cent from the Government as a grant.
The Government grant is the bit this Tory Government have chosen to cut via austerity. By 2020, it’s nearly £100m less than it was in 2010. So that 38per cent from government is being chopped.
Council tax then goes up to raise a bit of income, but this income nowhere near covers the amount cut by Government.
So overall, the budget is down despite council tax going up. That’s austerity. That then means the council has less to spend and has to cut services.
Austerity is a choice, and it’s your prerogative whether you agree with it or not. I don’t. But you might and that’s fine.
A common soundbite is: “Well we need austerity because Labour spent all the money.”
There are two flaws with that assumption: This Tory Government have borrowed more in seven years than all previous Labour governments combined. The national debt has tripled since 2010.
Secondly, the stuff that Labour ‘overspent’ on is exactly the stuff that people now complain is being cut: police, fire, ambulance, council funding.
Under a Labour Government, our borough got bypasses and link ways, two new hospitals, numerous new schools and 70per cent more highway funding. Compare that to the last seven years.
Austerity is a government choice.
But the next time you feel upset by a council decision, ask why it has to happen. Alternatively, we have three Tory councillors in our borough, ask them why they support austerity and cuts from their Tory Government.
Cllr Seve Gomez-Aspron