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Tory Budget is bad news for Wiltshire

February 20, 2018 3:00 PM

The Tory budget approved by Wiltshire Council today is bad news for Council staff, Wiltshire residents, and the most vulnerable in our county.

The political choices of the Tory cabinet have directly led to them needing to hike Council Tax up by 6% in 2018/19, meaning Band D properties will be paying almost £80 more per year to Wiltshire Council for fewer services. "This increase will be hard to bear for many residents in Wiltshire. Sadly, many people will be paying more for less," commented Cllr Ian Thorn, Lib Dem leader on Wiltshire Council, "this is bad news for Wiltshire residents, workers and many people who rely on their services."

The circumstances that the Tory administration find themselves in are undeniably tough, with the need for them to find £53m of savings, as a result of the removal of grants by the Conservative government in Westminster. The need to raise Council Tax so greatly though is at least partly self-inflicted, with the great show that the Tories on Wiltshire Council made of freezing council tax between 2010 and 2016. This political stunt has harmed the financial viability of the council and has left it facing a £26m shortfall in its budget. If in contrast, they had agreed a fairer approach with a gradual rise across this period, the council would currently be in the region of £25m per year better off. Thus, we could have avoided the people of Wiltshire being hit by an inflation-busting 6% increase in their Council Tax bills.

Not only will the budget lead to the reduction of 100 council posts, this is also a risky budget with a further £6.6m of savings signposted in adult social care. Yet, despite the transformation process being well under way no savings have been made so far, with an ever-increasing demand on services and an aging population will these savings truly be feasible?

ENDS

Reference - Wiltshire Council, 20thFebruary 2018, agenda pack - http://cms.wiltshire.gov.uk/documents/g10974/Public%20reports%20pack%2020th-Feb-2018%2010.30%20Council.pdf?T=10