Friday, December 29, 2006

Merton Council financial settlement press release

A press release has been issued by Merton Council, calling for a re-think from the Government over the grant settlement. This year Merton Council received a floor settlement of 2.7% which was the figure that most Outer London Boroughs received, though some got a higher settlement as it is a complex formula.

While we always hope for good settlement and in recent years we have usually been above the average for Outer London, the figure announced by the Government in November was in line what the Council was to receive provisionally for 07/08 in November 2005 as part of a two year budget settlement. At the time, the then Conservative opposition were not claiming it was an unfair settlement.

Merton Council officers had also budgeted for 2.7% settlement before the official announcement confirming the settlement. The outgoing Labour administration believed we could have budgeted in line with 2.7% increase and still had a Council tax rise of only 2.5% for 07/08 if we had still been the administration. I have full confidence we would have achieved the figure of a 2.5% Council tax rise for 07/08. We would also not be proposing to close Bond Road or cuts in the SEN Budget like the Tories are proposing which will hit the must vulnerable in the Borough.

The real reason why they are now looking for more money is due to their financial incompetence in office since taking over in May. In Merton, the strategy of the minority Conservative administration is quite clear, to put the Council Tax up by the highest figure they think the can get away without being capped by Government. The rise will then be blamed on the Labour Government and the previous Labour administration, anyone but them. If they do recieve extra money from Government, I can gurantee that it will not be spent on keeping the Council tax increase down this year. They would also still be claiming it was 'not enough'. The extra money would no doubt go into a treasure chest for 2010/11 (election year council tax) when miraculously it will be a zero per cent rise in Council Tax, that is if they survive until 2010.

Sadly the residents of Merton are likely to 'bear the brunt' of having a financially incompetent Tory administration running the show.

The Press release is below, all of the authorities below are Liberal Democrat controlled apart from Merton which is under no overall control.

A group of London boroughs have joined together to call on the government for an urgent rethink over the monies they are due to receive in the 2007 grant settlement and they have warned that, if the government does not act, residents in their part of London will face significant disadvantage in who pays for local services.

The four authorities from South West London, Merton, Sutton, Kingston upon Thames and Richmond upon Thames receive government grants which are significantly lower than other London Boroughs. Merton will receive a 2.7% increase in grant for 2007/2008, the minimum increase proposed by the Government.

The average increase for inner London boroughs is 3.6% and 3.2% for outer London boroughs.
Commenting on the recent finance settlement, Cllr Samantha George, Deputy Leader of Merton Council, said:

"The government's recent announcement on funding amounts to a slap in the face for the residents of South West London. Once again the people who live in our four boroughs have received a very raw deal indeed. The government must rethink its proposals and deliver a fairer settlement.

"In Merton we are hugely disappointed with the recent announcement and residents are set to bear the brunt once more. Be very clear here - we are not looking for handouts - simply a fair treatment for the people of Merton."


Post a Comment

<< Home