Last Thursday we set the budget for 2015-16 at CWaC.
For those of you who know about public sector budget setting - you'll appreciate that normally council budgets are set in February or March and come into effect on 1st April.
This year CWaC was able to set its budget early because last year we set a 3 year budget. This was year 2 of the 3 year budget, and everything remains on track. We will formally set the council tax rate in February or March 2015 as expected, however on the basis of this budget it is already clear that the council tax does not have to increase. We are on course for another year of 0% council tax rises. The final decision on this will be taken in February 2015.
I know from the basis of checking this last year that this will mean that since CWaC came into existence in 2009 there has been a real terms reduction in the council tax charged in excess of 12%. In other words, taking account of inflation, the council tax likely to be charged in 2015-16 will be more than 12% lower than it was in 2009-10. I'll work out the figures in February 2015.
The Council meeting on Thursday night was one of the most political meetings we have had. Whilst you'd never expect me as a Conservative Councillor to be particularly praiseworthy of Labour's efforts I have to say their performances were particularly poor. And if you don't believe me - just watch the webcast.
What we did learn from Labour is that if they did, God-forbid, win any of the elections in May 2015 they will raise the Council Tax in CWaC.
I quoted, at the council meeting, a letter written by Hilary Benn MP Labour's Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government. He stated in his letter of 25 August 2014 that whilst in the first year of any Labour Government they would stick to the budget figures set by the present government they would move money around between councils to favour what they term the 'deprived councils.' This, in my view, is code for saying they will take money away from CWaC and give it to inner city councils - which, even under this government, receive far more money per head than CWaC receives. The only way a council loosing money in this way can make it up, is by increasing the council tax.
Labour's Cllr Powell indicated that Labour would do away with Special Expenses in CWaC. That immediately means that Frodsham would be hit by this - as we benefit the most from the special expense regime. We organise more through our parish council than virtually all of the other parish council in the Borough. The special expense regime seeks to even out expenses over the Borough between parish councils and CWaC and seeks to ensure that local council tax payers are not charged twice for the same services.
Watch the webcast - you'll see Cllr Powell say this and me responding to the point, later on.
So with the elections looming into view the choices at a local level become clearer.
The Conservatives have taken £133m out of the cost of running CWaC since it was first created. We have invested more than £40m additional monies in adult and children's social care, and the council tax looks set to have fallen more than 12% in real terms. When the Care Act 2014 is implemented by April 2016 we will be putting around £6m of additional monies into adult social care.
The Conservatives have no plans to increase the council tax for 2015-16.
Labour on both a national and local level have already effectively said they will increase your council tax. They've learnt nothing.