IT is indicative of the parlous state of local government funding that many residents will being paying even more for a much diminished service when they receive their next council tax bill.
Even in those areas of Yorkshire where the increase could be an eyewatering 5.99 per cent – virtually double the rate of inflation – this will not be sufficient to offset further cuts to key public services.
And, while buck-passing Ministers will claim this is a matter for the councils concerned, the Government cannot afford to stay in denial about the controversy and how cuts could impact upon society’s most vulnerable.
After all, a large part of the current crisis stems from sustained reductions in Whitehall grants, the implementation the National Living Wage and the social care needs of an ageing population ignored for far too long.
Yet, while many town halls do not help themselves by paying excessive salaries to senior executives who are unable to provide strong leadership or take decisions, it is not easy to plan for the future, and long-term, when there’s so little certainty, or clarity, from the Government about future funding levels.
However, while Ministers are right to challenge councils to do more with less, the plain fact of the matter is that the future of local government is intertwined with the finances of the equally cash-strapped National Health Service and these issues can’t, and won’t, be reconciled until a consensus is reached on how to meet the care needs of the elderly, frail and vulnerable.
Given the number of respected politicians from all parties who have been making the case for greater correlation between health and care services, Theresa May would have the country’s respect if she began this process. Not only is there a need for a national consensus, but taxpayers will want reassurances that their hard-earned money is being spent as intended and not going to waste.