The keystone of accountable local government is the responsible management of taxpayer’s money. Lichfield District Council, controlled by the Conservatives, are meeting today to discuss the local economic impact of the coronavirus.
Cabinet member for finance, Councillor Strachan, has expressed that there is a need ‘to ensure that public money is spent wisely in its response to the pandemic’, but the council’s track record proves a different story. This is the same council that wasted £12m of taxpayer’s money on the failed Friarsgate vanity project without a single penny being returned, the same council wasting money on keeping the Friary Grange Leisure Centre closed rather than opening it to the public, and the same council considering spending money on widening pavements to aid social distancing measures instead of considering cutting business rates to help keep small and independent businesses going and getting people back to work.
…robbing Peter to pay Paul.Christopher J. Wilkinson
Councillor Strachan expressed his hope that government should ‘fully reimburse councils for their losses’ to mitigate diminishing reserves, thereby shifting the tax burden from the local level to the national level; robbing Peter to pay Paul. This comes despite the council’s own budget document indicating a significant decline in reserves over the forecast period from £14.85m in 2018/19 to £9.59m in 2023/24, and the fact that the budget was structurally imbalanced to the tune of £330,000 (three per cent of revenues) this year before accounting for the impact of the coronavirus. To coin a phrase, Lichfield District Council didn’t fix the roof when the sun was shining.
We will all be paying for today’s borrowing tomorrow.Christopher J. Wilkinson
It is taxpayers, particularly those on lower incomes, who bear the brunt of the financial failure of local councils. Borrowing may look safe on the surface, but it will solve one problem only to create several larger problems. We will all be paying for today’s borrowing tomorrow. The more councils borrow now, the higher taxes will be in the months and years ahead. The higher taxes are, the more jobs and incomes will be lost. As seen at the last election, both Labour and the Conservatives are committed to high taxing and high spending policies. They have learned nothing from history and are doomed to repeat the mistakes of the past. The next job lost due to their economic inanity might very well be your own.