Residents across the Horsham District are currently receiving their council tax bills for 2021/22 and understandably asking "why does my council tax keep going up when services keep being cut?"
Unfortunately, the answer is that council tax doesn’t cover the cost of all the services that local government is obliged by law to provide. A proportion of their funding comes from the UK Treasury, but that funding is being cut back year after year after year by the Tories. In the years 2010 to 2019, grants from central government were cut by 38% in real terms while the amount that local authorities raised from council tax went up by 21% in real terms.
What’s playing out is a conscious decision by the Tory government to shift the financial burden away from general taxation and onto council tax. Of course, at the same time, they cap the amount by which local authorities can increase council tax by, so it is never enough to plug the gaps left. This pincer movement on local authority finances is what is driving above-inflation increases in council tax combined with a hollowing out of our public services.
One of the biggest costs that county councils have to bear is that of providing adult social care – a cost that is growing all the time due to an ageing population - but central government isn’t giving the funding they need to do it. In July 2019, Boris Johnson stood on the steps of Downing Street and announced he had a clear plan to reform adult social care and end the slow-moving-car-crash that it has been engaged in for at least the past decade. So where is this cunning plan?
Unfortunately it’s no laughing matter – this is deadly serious. The funding crisis in adult social care is destroying the finances of county councils. As these authorities fall into bankruptcy one by one, district and borough councils will be forced to merge with them to forge unitary authorities so that their coffers too can be plundered, their services cut and their assets sold off. Where will they turn to when that well runs dry?
Martin Boffey, Candidate for the Horsham District Trafalgar By-Election said: “No more can-kicking, no more dither and delay. Boris Johnson needs to keep his word and grasp the nettle of the crisis in adult social care now – before it’s too late to save the public services that local authorities up and down the country provide and that people rely on.”