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.