WARRINGTON Borough Council is set to get an £8m funding boost from the Government which Warrington South MP Andy Carter says will help prevent excessive Council Tax rises.
But Cllr Russ Bowden, leader of the Labour controlled council described the announcement as “more Tory Government ‘smoke and mirrors’ that doesn’t even begin to tell the real story.”
Mr Carter has welcomed the Government’s confirmation that Warrington will see its budget increase by 6% this year, part of the Conservatives’ commitment to level up local services across the country.
He says local authorities across the country, including Warrington, will receive a share of £49.2 billion local government funding this year – a 4.4 per cent real terms increase and the largest year-on-year real terms increase in a decade. Funding for key public services in will be protected, with significant extra resources dedicated to areas where they are needed most. Thanks to the investment being made by the Conservatives, Warrington will have an extra £8 million to spend this year.
The latest Local Government Finance Settlement, which was confirmed by Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick in February, includes an additional £1.5 billion for social care. When added to the existing social care package, local authorities will now have access to over £5.5 billion of dedicated funding across adult and children’s social care in 2020-21.
Warrington also has an additional £25million ringfenced as part of the Town Deal which was launched recently. This could be used to redevelop vacant buildings and land, drive private sector investment by supporting small businesses and ensure young people have the skills they need to get good jobs. Communities will also be able to consider how they can boost their transport links and increase access to high-speed broadband.
Mr Carter says that thanks to measures taken by the Conservatives, local authorities will be able to prevent excessive Council Tax rises – striking the right balance between the interests of council taxpayers and addressing pressures on services.
He said: “Warrington Borough Council plays a vital role in our communities, providing the crucial local services that people rely on every day.
“I am delighted that the Conservative Government has confirmed Warrington will have additional £8 Million funding this year, which will help our local leaders make positive change in the area.
“The Conservatives were elected on a promise to level up local communities across the whole country, and with this funding increase, we can start to do exactly that, ensuring everyone lives in a community they can be proud of. I’ll continue to push for additional resource for our town, levelling up is a real priority for me.”
But Council Leader Cllr Russ Bowden responded: “After inflicting cuts of 60p in the pound on councils since 2010, it really does take some neck to trumpet increased funding. As is always the case, this is just more Tory Government ‘smoke and mirrors’ that doesn’t even begin to tell the real story.”
“This press release shows that the Government want to take credit for any increase, regardless of where it comes from. Shunting the burden of adult social care onto Council Tax payers through a 2% precept isn’t money from Government – it is money from hard-pressed Warrington residents.”
“The simple truth is that the Government is shirking its responsibilities over properly funding local services. We are succeeding in Warrington despite this wretched Tory Government, not because of them.”
Cllr Cathy Mitchell, Deputy Leader and Finance Portfolio Holder added: “When the Tories make grand announcements like this, then you really do need to read the small print.”
“£1.3m of this supposed increased funding is from New Homes Bonus. That is money that we already expected to receive and have budgeted for. This will disappear next year and leave us with another funding gap to fill.”
“£4.6m is ringfenced funding for adult social care. Whilst this is welcomed, it is a sticking plaster that doesn’t cover the rising costs and increased demand.”
“The remaining £2.3m is what residents are paying in the Adult Social Care precept. It is ridiculous to claim that this is new Government funding.
“For next year, the Council is facing a £14.1m funding shortfall to provide the valuable services that our residents rely upon, especially the most vulnerable. It beggars belief that the Tories are talking about increased funding when the stark reality is the complete opposite.”