At today’s Full Council meeting, I challenged Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors to resign from their respective parties in protest at the damaging cuts being imposed on local government.
This was within the debate which followed the decision of the Conservative and Liberal Democrat Coalition to pass responsibility for council tax benefits onto Cornwall Council, albeit with an allocation of £36 million to cover the costs – leaving a massive financial black-hole of over £5 million.
After the meeting, I made the following comment:
“Coalition cuts to local government are disproportionate and are undermining the ability of councils to provide public services. It is also shameful that the cuts, such as the localisation of council tax benefit, are increasingly likely to fall on the less-well-off.
“At today’s meeting, there were plenty of ‘crocodile tears’ from Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors about the unpalatable position in which elected members found themselves, trying to bridge yet another black-hole in their budget.
“But if they are serious stopping these truly damaging cuts, Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors should send a strong message to the Coalition by resigning from their respective parties.
“That is the sort of decisive political action that the likes of David Cameron, Nick Clegg and Eric Pickles will understand.”
Local Government First magazine has stated that the reduction in funding to local councils “will now exceed 33 per cent … and for some councils, it may go much higher.” The publication also notes that
budgets are “being cut by on average 8 per cent.”
At the Full Council meeting on 15th January, members failed to agree a way forward dealing with the localisation of council tax benefit. There was a proposal that council tax benefit payments for people of working age not be reduced, which MK members supported, but this was lost by 44 votes to 41. After about two hours of debate, the issue was deferred and there will now be an extra Full Council meeting to reconsider the issue.