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Council tax freeze electioneering - Labour
Opposition Labour councillors have accused the coalition leadership of putting votes before the well-being of vulnerable adults following a decision to freeze council tax while cutting the social services budget.
Redbridge Labour group leader Jas Athwal refused to reveal his alternative budget proposals, but described the Conservative/Liberal Democrat leadership’s decision as “atrocious”.
The coalition are proposing to freeze council tax for the fifth year in a row despite pushing ahead with a plan to save a further £21million over the next few years as government funding continues to be squeezed.
The department which will take the biggest hit in the next financial year under the proposed budget is adult services, which includes social services, with a cut of £1.9million.
Cllr Athwal said: “This is atrocious. The council have frozen tax just as elections are coming up, which is clearly being used for votes, yet they have to cut in other areas such as adult services which will cause huge problems.
“Let’s just say that if this was my house, I would be running it differently. They cannot go on borrowing money, they borrowed two or three million to pay for the temporary swimming pool in Ilford. It is not sustainable.”
Deputy leader of Redbridge Council, Ian Bond, said adult services had been cut by less than other departments in previous years.
He said: "We have been investing much money in adult services for the last two or three years so these savings are needed.
"We are working to have less people in residential care and this will save around £40,000 per person, if targets are reached. These savings could be extensive.
"There are obviously pressures and the outlook is challenging. Freezing council tax cannot continue forever, but for this year we should be keeping it at the same amount.
“The government are supporting us but this is not indefinite support."
The elections in Redbridge take place on May 22.