Mar 01 2013

Harrow’s 2013/14 Budget: Looking at both sides of the budget

pound_coinsWith Harrow’s 2013/14 budget being agreed last night, both Labour and the Conservatives have issued press statements, with their views of what’s going on.

For the Harrow Conservatives, they say that Harrow Council’s Labour administration will make residents ‘pay more and get less’, after passing a council tax-hiking budget last night. For the first time, Harrow’s Band D council tax will soar past £1,500, thanks to Labour’s 2% increase. Harrow will now have the third highest council tax in London. It was bad news for the borough’s services too, as public realm will see nearly £1 million cut from front-line services alone – and services for the vulnerable will also be hit by a series of cuts.

The Council’s Conservative Group voted against the budget, with its Leader Cllr. Susan Hall saying: “Labour are making our residents pay more and get less because they’re making the wrong choices. They refused £1 million from the Government to help them freeze council tax, and they’re slashing services because they’ve spent money poorly elsewhere. We appreciate times are tough, but Labour are hitting services across the board because they’ve made such bad choices.”

[pullquote align=”right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]”Harrow’s Band D council tax will soar past £1,500, thanks to Labour’s 2% increase…” – Conservatives[/pullquote]Meanwhile, the Harrow Labour group say that Tory run Bromley agrees with Harrow that the government’s offer to fund a freeze was a “very short-term solution” and in the long run bigger financial problems will still need to be addressed. Bromley’s Conservative Leader, Stephen Carr said: “We have a no-gimmicks long-term approach to finance and we aren’t going to sacrifice that for a short-term one-off period. It’s about balance and judgement.” The Labour Administration in Harrow took the same view that this is a short-term Tory gimmick which would leave Harrow residents worse off. Labour in Harrow has taken a long term, sensible approach to managing the Council’s finances. The offer of cash to freeze Council Tax is a gimmick and the Labour Administration could not afford to derail its robust financial management with Tory games. Tory controlled Bromley Council has taken the same view and raised Council Tax by nearly 2% and Wandsowrth by 3.1%.

Cllr Thaya Idaikkadar, Leader of Harrow Council said: “Eric Pickles wants us to take a Pay Day Loan which will cost Harrow residents more in the long-run. The money to freeze Council Tax is a con which we refuse to inflict on Harrow residents”

Like Bromley, Kingston-upon-Thames, Lewisham, Croydon and Wandsworth, Harrow has chosen to take a long-term view to Council finance. By raising Council Tax by 46p a week, Harrow can invest and maintain a critical sum of money to fund key services for the vulnerable. Harrow residents are decent folk who agree with the assessment that “the test of a civilisation is the way that it cares for its vulnerable members.” Residents support the Labour Administration putting the vulnerable first.

[pullquote align=”left|center|right” textalign=”left|center|right” width=”30%”]The money to freeze Council Tax is a con… – Labour[/pullquote]Most fair-minded people agree that a Fair Grant for Harrow would make it easier to budget. Most right thinking people support the campaign to get Government to reconsider the formula it currently uses. Harrow gets a relatively low grant. The Fair Grant Campaign aims to change that. Whilst the Tory Leadership in Harrow throw red herrings and spread misleading stories about Labour extravagance, a prudent Labour Administration is looking at long-term solutions for the borough. The campaign for a Fair Grant is gaining pace and Harrow Tories finally agreed to support it at last night’s meeting. They have finally realised that letters about Merton getting a lower grant are in the best interest of Harrow. How can anyone who cares about this borough be opposed to getting more money for the borough? Although Merton gets £1564, that is £44 less than Harrow but Harrow has more deprivation than Merton. Merton has a budget gap of £13.5m from next year over the course of following 3 years. Neighbouring Barnet gets £1710, £102 more, Hillingdon £1986, £378 more and Redbridge £2047, £439 more.


(Visited 7 times, 1 visits today)