14 January 2007

Tories fail budget scrutiny in Hammersmith & Fulham

After much fanfare by Hammersmith & Fulham Tories of a 3% cut in council tax, the reality is beginning to sink in.

Despite raiding the council's reserves and getting more cash from central government than expected, the Tories are promising to cut their share of the council tax by less than 9% by 2010 - which will hardly help them meet their election promise of Wandsworth council tax levels.

The cost of the council tax cut is being borne by all local residents but particularly the most vulnerable. In total the Tories' first budget features £14.5 million cuts in 2007-8, £26 million cuts in 2008-9, and £34 million cuts in 2009-10 - so worse is to come.

Cuts in local services already announced include:

* over £900,000 cut in spending on cleaning local streets which will mean more litter, flytipping and graffiti
* privatising many council services including the home help service for elderly and disabled people and cutting the numbers getting home helps
* hiking charges for meals on wheels and reducing the service
* higher fees and charges for most council services
* cutting support for local theatres and arts and for libraries

The Tories have failed their first test. This budget hurts local people and offers a pathetic cut in council tax which no one will notice when they get their bills with the GLA share included. Only the wealthy who don't use local services stand to benefit.

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