Lower taxes this year, effective spending ahead with Labour
Many Westminster residents are struggling to pay their bills as the country faces a cost of living crisis. So as Westminster Council meets on Wednesday 2nd March to decide its budget for the coming year, it is essential that it takes action now to help those who are struggling.
Since November 2021, Labour have been campaigning for council tax bills to be frozen for the next two years to help residents during the Conservative cost-of-living crisis.
Belatedly the Conservatives have responded to our pressure and agreed to a freeze this April (just ahead of the election on 5th May). However, they have said nothing about the future. This is why Labour has put forward an amendment to this year’s budget demanding the council make plans for a freeze for next year (2023/24), funded by cutting back on spending on highly paid consultants.
Labour has introduced also amendment that would freeze council rents this year rather than raise them at 1% above (CPI) inflation as the Conservatives currently plan.
Ending Conservative Waste
Westminster has very publicly let residents down over the last year by spending £6 million on the failed Marble Arch Mound. But we know this is just the tip of the iceberg of wasteful spending on pet projects by Westminster’s Conservative Council (as shown here).
So to get a grip on Westminster’s finances, Labour’s amendment calls for the Council to hold a ‘zero-based budget’ review that goes line by line through the council finances to root out any future wasteful spending on projects, like the Mound, that don’t deliver on resident’s needs.
This work would be supported by a ‘critical friends’ board of outside expert advisors who can help cut through any group think to identify potential waste. Labour would also democratise the way the budget process operates by trialling ‘participatory budgeting’ where residents get more of a say when setting local priorities.
Westminster Labour Group leader Cllr Adam Hug said:
“Boris Johnson’s Conservatives here in Westminster have been wasting your money and taking you for fools. They have become tired, out-of-touch and incompetent, wasting £6m on the Marble Arch Mound while local people struggle with rising bills. Labour is demanding action not only to freeze council tax this year but for next year too so that residents can plan for the future.”
Labour’s Shadow Cabinet Member for Finance David Boothroyd said:
“Westminster residents deserve a break from Conservative short-term fixes that do nothing to make the council businesslike and instead waste money. Our prudent proposals are resident’s priorities: checking every penny the council spends to make sure we get the most from it. A Labour council would be focussed and efficient.”