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Labour council blasts government for forcing ‘social care tax’ on Ealing residents

Ealing’s Labour-run Council today launched a stinging attack on the Tory government’s failure to deal with the social care crisis and choosing to load the burden on to Ealing residents.

This year Ealing Labour will freeze core council tax, but has been forced to charge residents with the government’s social care tax, meaning an overall increase of bills by 2%.  This extra revenue will be ring-fenced for adult social care provision in the borough such as home care for the elderly, dementia support and protecting residents from abuse.

The Local Government Association has announced that many councils will struggle to meet their statutory duties to provide social care and that nationally by 2020 there will be a £2.6bn financial gap even if Councils take the sticking plaster and buck passing solution the Tory government is proposing by asking Councils to raise Council Tax.

In London the gap is £600m and Ealing faces the same pressures. The 2% Tory social care tax increase will generate £2.3million, but this will not be enough revenue to meet the rising demand of these services. The Council has had to allocate an extra £13million in 2017/18 to fund adult social care.

The Leader of Ealing’s Labour council, Julian Bell, said:

“We have continued to freeze council tax for as long as possible because we understand the financial pressures so many of our residents face, especially the lowest paid, and we will continue to freeze core council tax this year. However, we have now been forced by the Tory government to charge residents this social care tax.

Over the last 7 years Ealing has seen its budgets cut by over 50% by the Tories and LibDems, while at the same time demand for social care has been growing year on year. Despite this we have grown our local economy and increased council tax and business rate income to increase significant resources in social care above and beyond what we could have raised from the social care tax.

However, we have now reached a critical point and it simply isn’t right or fair that the Tories are asking local residents to pay for their national social care crisis with their Tory social care tax.”

Labour had managed to freeze council tax for the past seven years by growing our way out of austerity, working to boost the local economy and encouraging the building of new homes. This generated millions of pounds of new revenue in increased business rate income and council tax payments, but it is no longer clear that this will be enough to match the budget squeeze imposed on Ealing by the Tory government.

Labour’s Finance Cabinet member, Councillor Yvonne Johnson said:

“Looking after the most vulnerable in society is one of Ealing Labour’s top priorities, and while the Tory government abandons their responsibility for the growing national social care crisis, Ealing Council will not turn a blind eye.

We will continue to fund the best possible social care service, but since the Tories have cut Ealing’s grant by £168million since 2010, and expect another £24.9million cut over the next four years, they have forced us to accept their 2% tax on residents’ bills this year.”

Notes:

  • A band D council tax bill for 2017/18 is £1,361.15.  This includes: Ealing Council’s element which is £1,059.93; the government’s social care precept of £21.20; and the GLA precept of £280.02.
  • A 2% increase in the council tax band D charge is £21.20 per year and which would generate £2.3million. It is the equivalent of an extra 41pence per week on the average Band D council tax payment.
  • The council budget will be set at a meeting of the full council on Tuesday, 21 February 2017.

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