Hammersmith and Fulham Council have sneaked out their budget for 2015/16. It represents a catalogue of broken pledges.
There will be a one per cent cut in the Council Tax. During the eight years of Conservative administration the Council Tax was routinely cut by three per cent annually. Equally routinely Labour claimed they could do much better than this eliminating millions of wasteful spending.
Furthermore the modest Council Tax saving (just £7.35 for a Band D household) will for many be offset by inflation busting increases in Council charges. Inflation is currently one per cent – as measured by the Consumer Price Index – or two per cent – as measured by the Retail Price Index. Hammersmith and Fulham Council has opted to increase charges by 2.4 per cent. On the grounds that was the inflation rate in August!
When Labour were in opposition they used to call these charges “stealth taxes”. They pledged to reduce not just Council Tax but “all Council Taxes”. The pledge was not to increase them in line with inflation – or only a bit more than inflation. The pledge was to cut them.
Back in 2012 I blogged about some specific examples that the Labour council leader Cllr Stephen Cowan had expressed particular moral indignation about. He pledged to cut the bulky waste collection charge back down to £20. (It will actually be £24.85.)
Cllr Cowan felt the increase in charges for booking a Junior Football Pitch from £45 to £48 per game was an outrage. He’s putting it up to £53.
There was much recent talk about boosting market traders in the North End Road. But the charge for a weekly stall goes up from £83.64 to £85.60p.
Cllr Cowan condemned the extra charges on small businesses to remove trade waste. Yet he is putting up the charges further.
Booking fees are going up – but then Labour don’t pay them anyway.
The promise to cut parking charges has been curiously forgotten.
Burial charges increases were something Labour got very emotional about in opposition. They were most emphatic about how immoral they were. In power they are increase the bill for a resident scattering ashes to £82.50p.
Then we have even began to scrutinise Labour’s spending cuts – such as to the Phoenix Centre in Shepherd’s Bush. Much of the budget detail has not yet been made public.
This is a budget of broken promises. No wonder that amidst their shame and embarrassment Labour have quietly released it on a Monday evening to such little fanfare.