Tory cuts will fall on Epsom and Ewell “unfairly” and “disproportionately”, a councillor has claimed, but the government argues the borough will be £36 million better off by the end of this parliament.
Epsom and Ewell Borough Council (EEBC) believes it will be about £1 million worse off over the next two years, due to the local government financial settlement announced by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) on Thursday, December 15.
This could be met by rising fees and charges and “further efficiencies”, a council spokesman said.
But a DCLG spokesman argued the settlement was part of a long-term strategy to make councils more self-sufficient, by allowing them to keep all council tax and business rates.
Epsom and Ewell Borough council will lose its revenue support grant (RSG) – generalised funding to local authorities – which is worth £417,000, by 2017/18, as part of the two-year settlement.
It will also lose out on £500,000 due to changes to a separate grant known as the New Homes Bonus (NHB), which is awarded to councils building an additional 0.4 per cent of new homes on top of their current housing stock.
Between October 2015 and October 2016, the council built 165 homes – not enough to qualify for the grant.
But the DCLG claim the cuts will be offset by government allowing local authorities to retain 100 per cent of council tax and business rates (worth £26 billion nationwide) by 2020, and by £240 million made available to councils for social care funding.
A council spokesman said: “This will have to be met by further efficiencies, savings and a rise in fees and charges.”
The spokesman also pointed out that in November the council agreed to invest £20 million in properties within the borough to offset the anticipated cuts.
Councillor Eber Kington (pictured below), Chairman of the Epsom and Ewell Borough Council’s Strategy and Resources Committee said the council was “determined” to protect core services despite the cuts.
He added: “The Government appears to have decided that the Borough Council and residents of Epsom and Ewell should shoulder an unfair and disproportionate burden of cuts to local authority funding.”
A DCLG spokesman said: “The Government has provided a long-term funding settlement which will give Epsom and Ewell more than £36 million to spend between now and 2020.
“This will allow them to deliver the local services that people value.”
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid also announced last week that councils could raise council tax by six per cent to fund social care.
He said on Thursday: “The precept puts money-raising powers into the hands of local leaders who best understand the needs of their community and are best placed to respond.”
Pic credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire
But Mr Javid (pictured above) was accused of “passing the buck” by shadow communities minister Jim McMahon, when he added that councils will have to justify the precept rises to ratepayers.
What do you think? Comment below, or get in touch at email@example.com