Unison warns 3% council tax cut will hit vulnerable people

Unison has slammed plans announced today by the Conservative-run Hammersmith and Fulham Council to cut council tax by 3% for the fourth year running, saying it will lead to service cuts for vulnerable people.

The union’s warning followed an announcement by the Labour Party in London that the eight councils it runs would be freezing council tax in 2010-11.

‘Vulnerable will be hit’

Commenting on Hammersmith and Fulham’s decision, Heather Wakefield, Unison’s head of local government, said: “Self-imposed budget cuts hit vulnerable people hard. It means closure of day centres, charges for meals on wheels, and cuts to home care services.”

Hammersmith & Fulham said that it had been able to afford the 3% cut due to a range of efficiency measures including selling assets it no longer needed, introducing competition to £90m worth of council services, and cutting waste and the overall staff numbers.

Councils ‘must tackle debt mountain’

Council Leader Stephen Greenhalgh says: “All councils have a duty to respond to the perfect storm of social and economic challenges caused by Britain’s toxic debt mountain which is fast approaching £1.4 trillion.”

London Labour has already said that its eight councils in the capital – Lambeth, Lewisham, Tower Hamlets, Hackney, Newham, Barking & Dagenham, Greenwich and Haringey – would impose a council tax freeze.

It said by “targeting waste rather than frontline services”, councils were able to protect services and save enough money to pass on to the public.

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