Greens’ council tax rise would hit the poorest
17 March, 2017
• COUNCILLOR Caroline Russell, being the sole Green opposition councillor on Islington Council, had every right to attempt to amend the council budget proposals recently made by the Labour group of councillors (Pay extra, save services, March 10).
But in the debate it was made quite clear by Labour that her demand for council tax to be increased by another 4.99 per cent would impact badly on the poorest in our borough and could never hope to make up for the massive loss of half of the council budget since 2010, imposed by both Tory and Coalition (including the Lib Dems, of course) government cuts.
And Labour also pointed out to Cllr Russell that a referendum to increase council tax above what was being proposed would cost £400,000 to run, wouldn’t get passed and would therefore waste precious money spent on it.
An average increase for council tax payers of £1 per week may not seem a lot to Cllr Russell and the Green Party, but it certainly is to families living on the breadline and struggling from day to day to put basic food on the table.
That is why Islington Labour has been campaigning since 2010 against Tory and Coalition government cuts to council funding and pressing the government to allocate much more money towards the provision of social care.
I was, however, surprised when Cllr Russell eventually voted against a Labour budget that allocated £40million for new council homes, included £3million investment in helping unemployed residents, provided another £500,000 for youth safety measures, exempted under-25s leaving care from council tax bills, and protected libraries, leisure centres, children’s centres, swimming pools, the ecology centre and the Plusbus service.
Under Labour, the council continues to pay its employees and most of its contractors the London Living Wage, provides primary school children with free school meals and gives pensioners a £100 council tax rebate.
What this Labour budget proves is that in tough economic times Labour remains on the side of residents and is committed to achieving fairness in our borough.
CLLR GARY HEATHER
Labour, Finsbury Park ward