Drivers and vulnerable old people receiving meals on wheels are set to be the biggest losers of all from Croydon Council’s budget, though there are no winners given that every Council taxpayer will see their bills and costs rise.
The budget was presented at a meeting of Full Council on Monday, with Council tax rises of £80 for the average household, taking the total bill to £1,716.82 for the year. It brings the total rise in Council Tax in the 5 years that Labour has run the Council to £246.43 for the average household – a 17% increase. Croydon people have every right to question whether they have seen a 17% improvement in services over that time.
Croydon’s Conservative opposition were scathing about some of the choices that the Labour Council has made in this year’s budget, which punish some of the borough’s most vulnerable people while the Labour Council consistently fails to control its spending and has rewarded Labour politicians with pay rises of up to 40%.
Recipients of meals on wheels are going to be some of the hardest hit. Conservative Councillor Yvette Hopley quoted from the Carer’s Centre in her speech, saying “Removing the subsidy for meals on wheels could have an adverse effect and isolate vulnerable older people. It will place greater pressure on carers and there is no clarity on how replacement services will be put in place.”
Other victims of Labour’s mismanagement are drivers, who are targeted for £4.3 million in additional charges and fines. The Council is hiring 21 additional traffic wardens in order to meet a revenue target. The council aggressively pursuing drivers and levying fines for any minor infraction, in order to fill the holes in its budget. Disabled drivers may be especially vulnerable to this, given the shortage of disabled parking spaces in Croydon. Disabled drivers already report receiving fines should they park just outside a disabled space, even if displaying a blue badge.
The reason why Labour is scrabbling around to find ever more vulnerable residents to target is that it keeps failing to meet its own budget forecasts, spending millions more than forecast in 2016-17, millions more than forecast in 2017-18 and on target to overspend its budget by more than £5 million once again in 2018-19.
Councillor Jason Cummings, Croydon Conservatives’ spokesman on finance, summed up the Labour approach,
“If you end up overspending in your departments by millions of pounds, every year, against your own forecasts then you are going to look for someone to bail you out. As Margaret Thatcher said ‘the problem with Socialism is that you eventually run out of other peoples money’ – well Croydon Labour clearly feel that Croydon residents have plenty left to give.
Millions of pounds of extra income being taken from the pockets of local people in parking charges and fines. Millions more pounds of being taken from the pockets of local people in new care charges. Millions of pounds of extra council tax being taken from the pockets of local people yet again this year - all as a result of yet more millions in project overruns, where costs go millions of pounds over and completion dates go back years and huge departmental overspends.
Labour cannot be trusted to deliver these figures. They failed last year and they failed the year before.”