The Swindon Labour Group was disappointed to see the Conservative government sneak out an expected 9% hike in Council tax as part of the Local Government Finance Settlement released last week.
Whilst there was a modest increase in funding, it was offset by the removal of some COVID funding despite the country being stuck in the middle of a new wave of COVID infections and an expectation that inflation will add significantly to local Government costs.
Cllr Jim Grant commented “Following on from the sleaze scandal and the never-ending revelations of Conservative Christmas parties, the Government have followed this up with the announcement that they expect Councils to increase Council Tax by 9% over the next three years.
“We know that hard working Swindon families are already facing stagnant wages, 5% inflation, a rise in national insurance payments, an announcement that train fares will rise by 3.8% and the expectation that energy bills will rise sharply when the government increase the cap in the spring, whilst still trying to negotiate the chaos and uncertainty of the pandemic and the prospect of further lockdowns.
“Now is simply not the right time to burden people with bigger bills, especially from a Conservative-run Swindon Council who can’t demonstrate any value for money for Swindon taxpayers. We have seen eye-watering costs incurred after the huge delays to roadworks in the town and the closure of much-loved public buildings at the Oasis and Museum and Art Gallery. “This financial settlement lumps more costs onto families already facing financial uncertainty and does nothing to address the long-term underfunding of Swindon and the cuts we have had to make during the decade long austerity programme which has cut vital services. All we will see, despite the hike in Council Tax bills, is more services at risk and the Council failing to carry out the key services that residents expect.”