A CASH crisis hitting Kirklees Council has been officially condemned.
Audit Commission officials have given the council a lower score than in previous years in their annual review of performances, partly because of the financial concerns.
And it could mean that the council's official grading of "excellent" is reduced to "good" when the results are announced next month.
That would be a major blow to the council which has prided itself on being one of the best in the country.
Labour councillors, tipped off about the Commission findings, have launched an angry attack on the Liberal Democrat administration.
The council score for financial affairs has now dropped from four to three, and the mark for financial control from four to two.
Clr Mehboob Khan, Labour Group leader, said: "It is now official that Kirklees Council is incompetently run by the Liberal Democrats.
"This is the first time ever that Kirklees Council's financial performance has taken a battering.
"I am not surprised at this appalling news because we have already highlighted the Lib Dems' administrative incompetence in managing council finances and services.
"I am extremely angry that this council is facing the deepest financial crisis in its 31-year history with a projected £21m overspend in Social Services, equal pay costs rising from £7.8m to £13m and costing a further £3m per year.
"The news from the independent watchdog further undermines confidence in the Liberal Democrats' abilities to halt this deepening financial crisis."
But council leader Kath Pinnock said the council was still rated as one of the best.
She said provisional figures suggested Kirklees was still the best council in West Yorkshire and certainly placed much better than many other authorities.
She said: "The Audit Commission has toughened the standards, so that fewer councils will get the top scores, and it is not as a result of the problems over social services spending.
"The mark of three is rated as performing well and the two means the service is adequate.
"I am not happy with the scores but we do know it is not a fundamental problem.
"As regards the social services pending, we have some difficult decisions to make.
"We need to provide the best services for some very vulnerable people and we have a dilemma.
"If we put up council taxes, it would hurt some of the people we are trying to help.
"We will continue to manage things sensibly while I am here."