Whilst the notoriously wasteful Sandwell Council attempt to keep their council tax increase to 1.4% or below (not a cut but a vast improvement no less), residents in Walsall look to be facing an enormous 3.9% rise following a budget meeting last night.
According to the Walsall Advertiser the council has made efficiency savings of £11.2m to redirect to frontline services, though they’ve also found £1m to support the increasingly prominent green agenda.
Though Walsall are by no means among the worst offenders in West Midlands local government, this is an alarmingly steep hike, especially as the last TPA Town Hall Rich List clearly shows that this authority are paying 6 executives whopping £100k+ salaries totalling at least £760k. What’s more, just fourteen months ago we revealed that they were paying out almost £1.4m for publicity, an increase of 77% in just ten years.
We can only hope that they’ve sloughed some of this expenditure as part of their efficiency savings.
Families are still struggling in the wake of the recession - particularly in Walsall where unemployment is significantly higher than the national average - and this 3.9% increase isn’t going to help. Though we’re all aware that our councils are facing extra strain at the moment too, it’s time they got even tougher and really eliminated all wasteful or unnecessary spending rather than keeping questionable positions, initiatives and even departments and bumping up our tax to sustain them.