It is difficult to know which bit of rhetoric about the Council’s finances the public should now believe from Cllr Banwait!
The tax payer has been told consistently that the Council has no money, and that, £135m has had to be saved over the last 6 years. In the budget statement issued in February 2017, it was declared that further savings are required to balance the budget of £14m in the coming year (2017/18) with a further £14m in the subsequent 2 years. This is after increasing the Council Tax by 5%. There is no reason to believe that the austerity rhetoric is still not valid.
3% of the 5% Council Tax increase ( specific Adult Social Care precept) which generated revenue of £5.9m was specifically “to shorten the gap in the rising cost of social care”.
This is Cllr Banwait’s summary in his report on the Council Tax 2017/18 rises:
“Councils across the country are struggling to provide their most important services. In Adult Social Care alone, Derby faces £14 million of pressures by 2020 due to rising demand and increasing costs. Despite growing concerns, the Government has offered very little to tackle what is a national problem. So far, their response has been to place the burden on local taxpayers. Even these changes leave Derby worse-off overall due to adjustments in the way other sources of funding are calculated. So while you pay more, the Council receives less.”
In the scrutiny of the Budget it was confirmed that “the 3% adult social care precept would be ring-fenced for adult social care” – so it cannot be spent on any other service.
In an interview this morning on Radio Derby, Cllr Banwait was asked to explain his negative comments about last years Xmas light “switch on” which he made at the St George’s Day event ( based on Derby News’ filming/publication). In his answer he proceeded to explain how the Council seemed to be able to fund public events when only, two months, ago, this was a major problem.
“Now that we are in a slightly better financial position because the Government has funded Social Care which was a major financial issue for Councils up and down the country it has meant now that we are able to start to put important events back into the City, so it is funding we should be really welcoming.
The Government has not provided any net new funding for Social Care – it has all come from a Council Tax rise.
The Council Tax rise only bridges about 40% of the expected gap in adult social care funding.
How is the Council now in a better financial position when £14m of cuts are still required….or was that just expedient rhetoric? Answer – To support Cllr Banwait’s re-election campaign in May 2018. Spending ring-fenced money in this way sounds very questionable…in fact, is it legal?