CHESHIRE West and Chester Council (CW&C) is proposing a balanced budget for 2021/22 which protects essential public services and supports local communities in the face of the pandemic and Government cuts.
A decade of Government cuts has meant councils have lost £15 billion in funding for local communities, they say.
Across the country, councils have been forced to raise local taxes by an average of £427 per household per year to bridge the gap.
Cllr Carol Gahan (pictured), CW&C cabinet member for Legal and Finance, said:“In Cheshire West and Chester, the total funding cut from central Government to local communities is now a staggering £400 million.
“Government cuts, plus the impact of austerity, multiple crises in mental health, housing and poverty, and the Government’s failure to develop a coherent strategy on social care means resources are being swallowed up and in the end, it is just pushing the cost of these cuts on to hard-working local ratepayers.”
Cllr Karen Shore, cabinet member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, said:“The Government is relying on Council Tax to make up the shortfall they have created but their numbers simply don’t add up. This failure has come at a time when people are already struggling due to the devastating impact of the Coronavirus pandemic.
“Council Tax is a regressive tax which is unsuitable for funding essential services, but until we have a change of Government we won’t get an alternative that works for local communities. As it stands, councils do not have access to the same resources as the Government and residents shouldn’t be made to pick up the bill for their failures.”
To balance the budget and protect local services for 2020/21 a Council Tax increase of £1.51 per week is being proposed for the typical Band D council taxpayer, with over half of this ring-fenced for taking care of elderly and vulnerable adults. Funding to support people facing financial hardship, who are struggling to pay Council Tax, has been retained in recognition of the challenges faced by some families.
.Cllr Paul Donovan, cabinet member for Democracy, Workforce and Localities, said:“I am really proud of how our staff have stepped up to support communities during the pandemic. They have been on the frontline helping to deliver food and medicine to residents who are shielding, running our local test, track, trace and isolate system when the Government couldn’t get its act together, reopening high streets, leading the way on recovering from recent floods and still providing the services we rely on everyday.
“ It is saddening to think that Cheshire West and Chester Council has half as many staff compared to when it was formed in 2009, it means the remaining staff are under impossible pressure to keep doing more with fewer resources and the impact of this is felt by residents too.”