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County Labour Leader slams Osborne’s social care plans as a ‘financially incompetent con’

Cllr Ashley Walsh, Labour’s Leader on the County Council, has slammed George Osborne’s plan to allow local authorities to increase council tax by a further 2% to fund social care services as ‘a total and financially incompetent con’, claiming that ‘not a single penny of the tax will even see adult social care’.

Cllr Ashley Walsh, Labour’s Leader on the County Council, has slammed George Osborne’s plan to allow local authorities to increase council tax by a further 2% to fund social care services as ‘a total and financially incompetent con’, claiming that ‘not a single penny of the tax will even see adult social care’.

Local authorities are currently only able to increase council tax by 1.9% and must win approval for a higher increase through a referendum.

But George Osborne announced that primary-tier authorities with responsibility for social care will be able to raise tax by a further 2% in light of the current crisis in adult services.

For every 1% increase in council tax, Cambridgeshire County Council gains £2.4m – meaning the special social care tax would levy £4.8 million. But this money cannot be ring-fenced and may be diverted to pay for other unfunded spending pledges made by the Chancellor. For example, Osborne’s pledge to pay a national living wage of £7.20 per hour from April 2016 will not be matched with funding for local authorities. In Cambridgeshire, the cost of implementing the national living wage for council workers is around £5.5 million.

Cllr Walsh explained: ‘The previous coalition and current Tory governments have left us with a huge crisis in social care. In Cambridge we see this crisis more than most with massively unaffordable elderly care and as Addenbrooke’s enters emergency measures each year partly because of a shortage of provision. Osborne has also pledged a phoney living wage, which experts agree will not cover basic costs for the average family, without even bothering to provide any funding for it. So not a single penny of the 2% tax increase will see an adult day centre or retirement home. Osborne’s policy is a total con designed only to hit local councils harder than ever and residents should not be fooled.

‘His cheap political posturing covers the same old nasty Tory who couldn’t care less about protecting the vulnerable and elderly. Worse, it’s the same old nasty Tory matched with utter financial incompetence.

If Osborne would like a lesson in managing public finances, he is welcome to join me any time to go through the council’s books so that he realises the consequences of the utter chaos he is inflicting on local government.’

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