Image above: Hounslow House, headquarters of Hounslow Council
No cuts ‘despite Tory economic mismanagement over the last 14 years’
Hounslow Council has released proposals for its 2024/25 Budget.
The Labour Council says it has managed to continue to ‘support hard pressed residents and protects front line services, despite Tory economic mismanagement over the last 14 years.’
Promoting this budget as a ‘No cuts budget’, Leader of Hounslow Council, Councillor Shantanu Rajawat said:
“I’m proud to announce that we will be proposing no cuts to services in our Budget proposals, to ensure we can continue to deliver a real difference to residents’ lives and outcomes.”
This may not sound like much of an achievement, but he is attempting to balance this year’s budget at a time when councils across the political spectrum and of varying levels of financial stability have increasingly been speaking openly about nearing effective bankruptcy. The Labour council of Barking and Dagenham is in debt to the tune of £1bn. Conservative Woking council effectively went bust last summer with debts of £1.2bn.
‘Tory Government managed decline has brought public services to crisis point, with a wave of damage being caused by an absent Government unwilling to reform and invest in key policies such as health, social care, asylum and housing’ say Hounslow.
‘Local Government has been hit the hardest and Councils across the UK are facing challenging financial times as funding goes down and demand for vital services goes up. However, despite these challenges, your Labour-run Hounslow Council has proposed an ambitious and responsible budget which continues to deliver on your aspirations for a better and more prosperous future for all residents and businesses in Hounslow.’
The Council has made housing its priority, and has built hundreds of energy efficient new houses over the past year.
It has a statuary obligation to provide for social care needs and special education needs. The Council says it has supported 4,100 adults with social care needs and 3,000 children and young people with special education needs.
It says it has also planted more than 8,000 trees, recycled the household waste of 103,000 households, set up Community and Family hubs, to deliver services closer to home for residents, and provided £1.2 million in funding for community and voluntary groups.
Council Tax up by 4.99%
In order to continue delivering services, the proposals the Leader is putting forward to Cabinet to sign off include increasing Council Tax by 4.99% – 2% ringfenced for social care:
‘a critical investment to help meet the rising costs and demand for these services whilst supporting some of the most vulnerable in our society’.
Image above: Council Tax breakdown by band
Cllr Rajawat said:
“After 14 years of Tory Government, there is no doubt to us all that our public services have been decimated and it is our local services that have been bearing the brunt.
“Despite these challenges, our Labour administration here in Hounslow have ensured a balanced budget year after year, but also worked hard to protect our residents who rely on public services from the worst of the ravages of Tory decline.
“Whether it be our Council Tax Support Scheme which aims to provide 100% support to those most vulnerable in the borough, our support for the poorest families across Hounslow during the school holidays, our Cost of Living workshops or our Warm Homes initiative, we are a Council which is here for you, thinking outside of the box in order to help you and strengthen our services in the face of Tory mismanagement.
“Raising council tax is never an easy decision, however the sad fact is that Government funding has been reducing over the last 14 years whilst demand and costs have increased. Inflation is still rampant and outpaces any income from Council Tax meaning that we have to continue thinking about how best to offer the services you rely on whilst delivering value for money.
“Due to the funding situation, many Councils are finding themselves unable to offer vital services. Hounslow Labour has very carefully managed your money over the years and as a result is able to protect front line services at a time when they are needed the most.
“This is why I’m proud to announce that we will be proposing no cuts to services in our Budget proposals, to ensure we can continue to deliver a real difference to residents’ lives and outcomes.”
The Budget proposals will go to Hounslow Council’s Cabinet meeting on Tuesday 20 February, before being debated by Full Council on Tuesday 27 February when Hounslow Council’s Budget for 2024/25 will be set.
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