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Keep calm and carry on - council tax frozen as borough swallows £7 million in cuts

Solihull Council has suffered an ‘unfair’ reduction in the Government grant this year - one of the largest drops nationally

Solihull Council
Solihull Council

Solihull Council has suffered an unfair reduction in the Government grant this year - one of the largest drops nationally.

But leader of the council Ken Meeson said despite the spending grant being reduced this year by 2.7 per cent, he is confident the authority will rise to the challenge and has adopted a keep calm and carry on approach.

The councils budget for 2013/14 was agreed at last week's Full Council meeting.

Coun Meeson said: "[The reduction] is unfair and perpetuates the feather-bedding of high spending and inefficient councils who depend on generous hand-outs from the national pot to support their budget.

"In Solihull our spending is mainly paid for through council tax. This is tough but in Solihull we have a consistent record of rising to every challenge, finding innovative ways of making the best of valuable resources and keeping faith with local people."

Members agreed a council tax freeze for the third year running and funding has been increased for the Citizens Advice Bureau and other agencies who are trying to keep staff in work.

Assumed savings are to be made within the children and young people department and health and well being.

Coun Karl Macnaughton (Green, Chelmsley Wood) said he was bitterly disappointed that the Living Wage had not been introduced by the council and was concerned about the 10 per cent cut to Children's Related Services, which covers child protection and safeguarding.

"Following the amount of high profile abuse scandals, we need to ensure what we continue to work well in that area," hr said.

Coun David Jamieson (Lab, Kingshurst and Fordbridge) referred to the budget as salami slicing of services and said if there are cuts made in the public sector, this would lead to less money being spent in the private sector.

But Coun Bob Sleigh (Con, Bickenhill) highlighted the council's decision to freeze council tax and the fact that no front line services have been axed.

"It's not what you get [money] but its what you do with it," he said.

*Councillors agreed a budget of s177.3m. The band D council tax figure, excluding police, fire and parish precepts, will remain at s1,173.72.

The agreed budget includes savings of s7.178m.

Council also approved an indicative Medium Term Financial Strategy up to 2016 which is designed to ensure that council priorities continue to be met against anticipated continual financial constraint. The strategy aim is to limit any future increase in council tax to no more than two per cent if government support for a further freeze is not available.

 

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