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Mebyon Kernow councillor slams Coalition cuts to Cornwall Council
The other week Cornwall Council held a special meeting to discuss the proposed local scheme for Council Tax support. The proposal was accepted to reduce Council Tax benefit to some of the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society this is driven by changes in funding imposed by the Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition in Westminster.

On 19th December 2012, the Communities Minister Eric Pickles announced the latest financial settlement for local government. He told the House of Commons that the average cut to funding for local councils was a “bargain to local authorities."

Cornwall Council was told it would face a cut of 1.8% to what the government has defined as “spending power”. However, according to staff at the council, the “Government’s calculation is incorrect and double counts figures” and “in terms of actual comparable direct government funding, this is down by 6% compared with last year (£18m).”

There are double-standards in the debate around this Government settlement. It does include £36 million to cover the cost of Council Tax Benefit to the Council – but this is estimated to be £6 million less than what the previous scheme cost in 2012/13. The Public health settlement is also almost £2 million less than what was promised by the government in the summer (already a cut on this year’s budget). And yet, when Councils seek to find ways to bridge these extra funding gaps, it is Eric Pickles who condemns the approach of certain local councils as “obscene.”

The reality is that cuts to local government have been greater than to almost all other parts of the public sector. For Cornwall Council the cuts will, over a four-year period, equate to a reduction in spend of £500 million. This undermines our ability to provide those vital public services that residents should be able to expect. The Coalition has stated that future years could see even more cuts to local council budgets.

When you see local politicians grandstanding as the Cornwall Council elections approach it is important to ask yourself whether they are crying crocodile tears over something that their political colleagues at Westminster have imposed. We must ensure that those elected to the new Council are committed to putting Cornwall first. Joining Mebyon Kernow, becoming a MK Councillor or voting for a MK candidate will make a difference and deliver a better deal for Cornwall in these austere times.

(N.B this article was originally written for the West Briton by Councillor Loveday Jenkin) 

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By Loveday Jenkin. Published on 17th February 2013.

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