A firm ‘no’ from Prime Minister Theresa May greeted Ellesmere Port and Neston MP Justin Madders when he spoke at the last Prime Minister’s Questions of the year.
Mr Madders rose in the Commons and told the PM: “At the last election the Conservative party manifesto said that ‘we will help local authorities keep council tax low for hardworking taxpayers and ensure residents can continue to veto high rises’.
Band D council tax payers in Ellesmere Port and Neston faced paying extra each year, with no veto, because of the Government’s failure to tackle the social care crisis, he insisted.
“Will the Prime Minister now admit that her party’s pledge on council tax has been abandoned?”
“No,” said the PM. “Obviously we have put the social care precept in place in recognition of the pressures on social care but I am pleased to say we have seen many examples over the country of good local authorities ensuring they are keeping council tax down.”
She referred to the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead which Mrs May said had cut council tax for six years running.
The campaigning MP is furious over cuts to council funding and criticises the Government’s plans to further cut council funding accusing the Conservatives of breaking their promise on council tax rates.
He belives that in Cheshire West and Chester this would lead to average band D taxpayers forking out £78.04 more each year before any other increases are announced to replace ‘multi-million pound cuts to Government grants’.
Mr Madders argues local councils will receive £2.2bn less to run vital local services in 2017/18 than last year with a cut of more than £12.5m every year in prospect for the borough.
He insists that while the Government claims to have increased investment to tackle the growing crisis in social care the money for this is coming from the pockets of local council tax payers and by redirecting funding already due be provided to councils.
“This local government finance settlement is bad news for Ellesmere Port and Neston as Tory cuts to local government funding will put key local services under even more pressure,” says Mr Madders, a shadow health minister.
“This Government was elected on a promise of keeping council tax increases low but they are now deliberately pursuing the opposite in a policy they have to resort to because of their failure to deal with the crisis in social care.
“Local government has already severely suffered as a result of six years of brutal and devastating Tory cuts.
“While the new Labour leadership of Cheshire West and Chester Council is doing a good job after years of Conservative mismanagement, they are being asked to do more with £12.51 million less.
“The Government has finally acknowledged the crisis in social care but changes to the council tax precept are a short-term sticking plaster for a crisis which needs a sustainable, long-term and strategic solution.”
He added: “Winter is already here and there is not a penny more for the 1.2 million elderly people who are living without the care they need. What is clear is that the Government have no new ideas on how to fund social care and are just passing the buck to overstretched local authorities and council tax payers.”