Labour councillors have responded with astonishment to claims that the Conservative government has granted Rotherham Council an additional £10.3 million towards its budget next year. To be true the claim would require Rotherham residents to be subject to the biggest council tax rise anywhere in the country.
The Conservative MP for Rother Valley has heralded the imaginary investment despite widespread understanding that three quarters of the supposedly additional money recently announced by the government for councils would have to come straight out of residents’ pockets in a 5% council tax rise.
But a closer look at the claim for Rotherham reveals that the picture here is even worse. The council will actually receive only £2.4 million in additional government grant next year, and in order to reach the £10.3 million claimed by Mr Stafford, council tax bills would have to rocket up by nearly 7%.
The 6.8% rise, equivalent to an extra £125 for a Band D property, would be higher than the government’s referendum threshold, making it the highest council tax increase anywhere in the country in recent years.
You can support Labour’s calls to stop the Tories council tax hike by signing our petition below.
Remarkably, in a social media post this week, Mr Stafford doubled down on his claim, criticising the council for a small increase in housing rents, apparently oblivious to the fact that the government grant couldn’t be used to subsidise council housing in any case.
Cllr Chris Read, Labour Leader of Rotherham Council, responded to the MP’s claims:
“It’s astonishing that Conservative propaganda is being pushed by one of the borough’s MPs to mislead residents about the funding for services like bin collections, libraries and social care. Most of the money they are talking about simply doesn’t exist.
“That the Tories are pushing more costs on to council taxpayers everywhere is quite bad enough, but once again we can see clearly how Rotherham is amongst the hardest hit places. Quite obviously we won’t be taking up Mr Stafford’s suggestion of the biggest council tax rise in the country, and neither will we be cancelling the much needed investment in building new council homes for local people.”
Cllr Chris Read also said:
“After £200 million of Tory cuts to the council’s budget over the last decade, resulting in 1,800 jobs being lost, what Rotherham and communities like ours need is a fair deal from the government to secure vital local services. What Rotherham residents deserve is some honesty about the choices the government has foisted on us. The last thing they need is the cold comfort of Tory spin.”
Rotherham Council is currently consulting on resident’s priorities for spending. You can take part online by clicking on the link below.