Councillors have lashed out at the government as they are forced to hike council tax and make £100m cuts to balance the books.
Kirklees Council’s cabinet – the senior group of councillors – has reluctantly given the green light for a 10% rise in ‘rates’ over the next two years and further deep slashes to its budget.
Presenting the plan, cabinet member for resources Clr Graham Turner said the budget for the next four years contained “nothing but bad news for residents of Kirklees.”
Council leader Clr David Sheard added simply: “It’s the budget that none of us want to do.”
Clr Charles Greaves, leader of the Holme Valley North independent group, added: “It’s a truly dreadful budget and the responsibility lies only with central government.
“It’s almost a complete shut down of Kirklees Council – it’s just bad news after bad news.”
But Tory chief Clr David Hall said protestations that it was the government’s fault were unfair.
“This administration has had since 2010 to get their books in order,” he said.
It was revealed last week that government announcements in 2016 have increased the pain for Kirklees.
A year ago council accountants said they would have a budget gap of £65m in 2021. That has now worsened to more than £100m due to changes to school funding, health and social care policies.
Services that have faced cuts over the past five years are set to be hit again, including libraries, street cleaning and roads.
Clr Turner laid the blame for the crisis entirely with the Conservative government.
“The underfunding of local government by central government continues to affect the day to day lives of all our residents,” he said.
“Local government provides much needed services, but the constant unwarranted cuts to our budget means we have no option but to reduce virtually every service and remove some all together.
“This cannot go on – the pressures are mounting not only for northern Labour led councils – but now even wealthier southern parts of the country such as Surrey are saying enough is enough. It’s time to stop destroying local government and fund it adequately.
“We must do all we can to protect those services that our old people, vulnerable adults and children, those with special needs, the working poor, unemployed and the growing homeless, rely on just to get through the day.”
Clr Turner said the government’s policy of allowing councils to add 6% onto council tax for the next two years to fund social care was “ridiculous” and an attempt to “fool the public.”
He added: ”Using council tax as a way of funding the crisis in social care is wrong and does not work. It fails to take into account the needs of specific areas and favours those with high numbers of band D and E houses, penalising those with large numbers of band A homes such as ourselves.”