Tories in call for Bradford Council’s £3m underspend to offset planned Council Tax increase (From Bradford Telegraph and Argus)
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Tories in call for Bradford Council’s £3m underspend to offset planned Council Tax increase
7:00am Wednesday 4th December 2013 in News
Bradford Council should use an expected budget underspend of nearly £3 million to avoid “needless” Council Tax rises, the Tories have claimed.
Councillor Glen Miller, leader of the Conservative Group on Bradford Council, said it was “unbelievable” that the Labour-led administration had increased Council Tax by 1.99 per cent earlier this year to raise an extra £3 million when it now expected to under-spend this year’s budget by almost the same amount.
A further 1.6 per cent tax rise is planned for the next two years.
But Council leader Coun David Green hit back, calling Coun Miller’s comments a “cynical attempt” to distract people from Coalition Government cuts.
Coun Miller claimed the Labour-led authority had misled the public about the its finances to deliberately over-tax residents to pay for “pet projects”.
He said last year the authority had under-spent by about £3m, while this year the figure was expected to be £2.7m.
He said: “Each year we are told the situation has passed the critical point and the Council has no choice but to cut essential services and increase Council Tax in order to balance the budget, yet each year the budget comes in comfortably under-spent.
“It comes as no surprise to me that at the same time as being told this year’s budget will under-spend by nearly £3m, we are being told the budget for the coming year cannot be balanced without cuts to frontline services.
“This has happened for two years in a row and it appears local residents may be being misled in order to justify needless rises.”
But Coun Green said: “The Labour administration has always made it clear we are committed to making sure our drive for efficiency goes on all year, not just at budget time, and we work to keep costs down to try to mitigate the effects of the cuts.”
But he said the underspend amounted to only 0.6 per cent of the total Council budget, and did not make up for the “25 per cent plus being taken from Bradford by Government”.
He said: “This is a cynical attempt to portray the publically-stated policy of the Council as something sinister to distract attention from what their party is doing to us nationally ”
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