"Fat Cats will be paid more for delivering less"

Council condemned for cutting services for the poor and needy

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Hounslow’s Labour Councillors condemned the Conservative / ICG budget "pushed" through at this week's council meeting, accusing the Tories and ICG of betraying their communities by forcing through over £6 million of cuts in services.

Liberal Democrats also spoke out against the coalition administration’s final budget and tax package with Cllr Andrew Dakers saying that many of the final cuts were too severe and too last minute, leading to a lack of proper scrutiny of proposals, and that measures to tackle climate change were not being put in place fast enough.

“We support the Hounslow Plan. We support the administration’s aspiration of zero or extremely marginal increases in the unreformed council tax. However this final package of budget proposals is too severe and has not been properly considered through the council’s scrutiny process.

“This is why we are not supporting cuts by 25% of Hounslow Council’s grant to the Watermans Arts Centre and £200k reductions in the annual payment to CIP – the borough’s leisure, libraries and parks service provider. Some of the additional cuts are liable to hit the most vulnerable in our community.

Further condemnation came from Hounslow Independent Alliance Councillor John Connelly who said, “Hidden away in the budget is £400,000 set aside to fund pay increases to Chief Officers (some already on £100,000+ per annum) and to enable the Leader and other leading members to give themselves a massive increase in allowances. So, residents will be receiving fewer, more expensive services than last year. In return the Fat Cats will be paid more for delivering less.”

"These cuts show that the Tory/ICG coalition is prepared to break their promises and cut front-line services" added Labour Group Leader Cllr Jagdish Sharma. "It is the poor, the needy, the vulnerable of our borough who will suffer - it is total betrayal."

The 0% increase in council tax figure proposed by the new Conservative administration was agreed at Borough Council on Tuesday, 6 March. Together with the Greater London Authority precept (which went up by 5.3%), means Council Tax for a Band D property will be £1394.53 per annum, a total increase of 1.1%.

Leader of Hounslow Council, Cllr Peter Thompson, said, “This is the first time in more than 12 years that Hounslow Council has not put up its share of the council tax. This is great news for Hounslow residents, who have been suffering from big rises in council tax for far too long, and especially welcome to pensioners and those on low or fixed incomes.

“We have always aspired to be a low tax authority, and have worked hard to put together a budget that delivers a more efficient council while maintaining key services at no extra cost to our residents. This is because we believe that Government should tax less and deliver more for people’s money.

Cllr Thompson continued, “We made a commitment in the Hounslow Plan for a fair level of council tax, with money being spent wisely on front-line essential services and not wasted on expensive overheads, inefficiency and duplication.

A booklet providing further explanation and details on the Council Tax will be sent to homes with the council tax bills before the end of the month.

March 9, 2007