Sunday, December 24, 2006

Happy Christmas

News about the Council Tax 3

At the Council meeting on Tuesday, the provisional Council budget and Council Tax level was announced for 2007/08.

The Council Tax has been provisionally set so that it will rise no higher than 3.8% and could well be lower by the time it is confirmed in March.

While this increase is below inflation as promised, I would have liked it to be lower. However, this is not possible due to the poor funding grant by the Labour Government to Barnet and Gordon Brown's NHS funding crises. As a result of the underfunding in the NHS. Barnet is having to provide extra services and so 1.61% of the council tax increase will be to provide health services that the NHS should be providing. Without this amount in the budget the tax increase would be around 2.25%.

This Council Tax increase is likely to be one of the lowest in the country. This is a result of the efficiency's the Council is making and even some cuts where required.

What I found interesting that both Labour and the Lib Dems did not criticise the low increase in Council Tax. Instead they both said we should be providing more services which would therefore make the Council Tax increase much higher.

This therefore shows that the Conservative Council is delivering high quality services which people want at the lowest possible level of tax.

News about the Council Tax 2 - The NHS Crises

As I explained in my previous update the key reason that Council Tax will be rising in Barnet and across London and the whole country is because of the lack of Government funding for local authority services.

However, even worse now is that Brown has also started to underfund the NHS, so that many of the services at Barnet General, Royal Free and Edgware Community Centre are under threat. Due to the underfunding for our local hospitals and less staff, the hospitals are struggling to provide all the services they require.

As a result of Labour's mismanagement led by Gordon Brown, these services are having to be picked up by local councils across the country including Barnet. Therefore, the NHS Funding crisis means in Barnet an extra £2.2m of costs has to come out of the local council budget.


Wednesday, December 20, 2006

News about the Council Tax 1

At last nights Council Meeting the Leader announced the headline figures for the 2007/8 budget and Council Tax ahead of it being finalised at the Council Meeting in March.

As this is an important and complex subject I thought it would be useful to outline the key information to make it understand for you to understand.

The first key issue was that of the capital grant that Barnet Council will be receiving from the Government.

The Government will be giving a 2% increase in the grant it gives to Barnet Council in 2007/8. This is the lowest grant in the country for the second year running, so that the Labour Government, has continued to ensure that they are underfunding the services provided in Barnet.

You might wonder why as a Conservative that believes in low levels of public spending and taxation levels I am complaining that the Government is spending a lack of money on Barnet. However, the reason for this is quite clear.

Since the Labour Government was elected they have continually, led by Gordon Brown, set more and more requirements and targets which they have forced Councils to carry out. As a result over 75% of local council services are forced on Councils by central Government. However, while each year, requiring Councils to carry out more and more work, the Labour Government has not increased the funding required to carry out these services at the same rates.

The Government has hit the Borough of Barnet particularly hard. While, each Council is required to carry out the same services, not each Council receives the same rate of increased spending. Barnet has been hit with just a 2% this year. so that for two years running we have received the lowest grant increase in the country.

The 2% increase in Barnet compares to an average of
3.2% for outer London Councils
3.4% for London as a whole
3.8% for England as a whole

Therefore, the Government is penalsing the residents of Barnet to help other boroughs particularly in the north of England.

I will provide more information on the budget tomorrow.

Cleaner Streets for Barnet

I am pleased to let you know that Barnet Council has announced new improvements to the street cleaning service for Barnet and especially town centres such as Edgware.

At last nights Council meeting I asked Matthew Offord, the Lead Member for Environment a question about what new improvements were being made to the street cleaning service.

I was told by Matthew Offord that the improvements will include a specific cleaning service around 20 town centres in the borough including Edgware. The cleaning staff will also have new uniforms to make them more recognisable so that members of the public know who to approach.

I am glad that a new street cleaning service is being introdued in the Borough. T hough standards are already very high, there is always more to be done. I look forward to a very real difference being made on the streets of both Edgware and Barnet as a whole.