Daniel Zeichner, Member of Parliament for Cambridge, has offered a bleak assessment for cash-strapped services following a knife-edge budget vote at Cambridgeshire County Council yesterday following months of deadlock.
The County Council budget was thrown into uncertainty when Shire Hall Conservatives refused their own Government’s policy of raising council tax by 2% as well as a special adult social care levy by increasing council tax by a further 2%.
The Government announced its council tax policy late in 2016 following seven years of austerity.
Labour councillors led the charge to raise council tax as well as the adult social care precept. Proposals included reversing the £1 Park and Ride charge, providing more elderly care places, and avoiding cuts to library books.
But Independent councillors voted for Tory proposals, allowing the budget to pass by a majority of one.
Daniel Zeichner visited Addenbrooke’s last Friday and learned how the social care crisis means Addenbrooke’s cannot discharge outpatients quickly enough.
Daniel Zeichner said: “It is a scandal that the Government is devolving more responsibilities down to local councils but keeps cutting their budgets. Nobody wants to increase council tax but, until the Government realises its responsibility to pay to stop the social care crisis and properly fund our NHS, councils must step up to the plate. Without extra funding soon, the future of many of our services could be thrown into doubt”.
Cllr Ashley Walsh, Leader of the Labour Group on Cambridgeshire County Council, added: “In 2010, Cambridgeshire County Council received £111m from national government to provide basic services. In 2019, it won’t receive a single penny. If residents expect the levels of services which they receive now -; and most think those are inadequate -; the County Council has no choice but to increase its tax base.”