Labour Leader of Gateshead Council, Martin Gannon, moves the budget for 2017/18
Council tax in Gateshead is rising by 5% following the decision of the Conservative Government to end all grants to local councils.
With nearly every Council in England facing a complete end to Government money for social care for the elderly, libraries, parks and other services run by local government, Conservative ministers in effect ordered each council to increase council tax by up to 5%.
The grants will come to an end in 2020 and all councils are going through a process of cutting back services, making efficiencies and handing some activites to volunteer groups.
But a double whammy is in store for Gateshead as there is rapidly rising demand for social care for the elderly - and the council is legally required to provide it.
By 2020/21, Gateshead will have to make around £92 million of savings while increasing spending on adult social care by £30 million.
“Many people are living much longer and need more support,” said Lib Dem Leader of the Opposition Councillor Jonathan Wallace. “That means Gateshead Council has to provide more services for our elderly residents.
“Yet at the same time as the Conservative Government is taking away from us the money to pay for these services.
“In 2010-15, when the Lib Dems were part of the Coalition Government, we funded councils to freeze council tax for 4 years.
“But the Labour party left the nation’s finances in a terrible state so cuts had to be made to help balance the books.”
“And they have decided to let wealthy areas bringing in large amounts of business rates to keep all this money. At the moment, some of the business rates are transferred to areas with greater needs, such as Gateshead. That is to end in 2020.
“Labour in Parliament are hopeless as an opposition. Under Jeremy Corbyn, they are letting the Conservatives walk all over them.
“It means the Conservatives are getting away with huge cuts to services in areas like Gateshead while letting the richest parts of the country keep the money that was previously being moved to areas such as the North East.
“While it is the Conservatives who are treating our area unfairly, it is Labour and Jeremy Corbyn who are letting them get away with it.”
Lib Dem Leader of the Opposition in Gateshead, Cllr Jonathan Wallace, responds to the budget.