Luton Councils likely underspend for 2012/13 has dramatically shot up again – from £5.5 million to £10.24 million – a report for the Councils Executive on Monday reveals.
The level of underspend vindicates those who have been arguing for some time that despite introducing drastic cuts in services and wasting money on ill-thought-out ventures like Love Luton Pop concerts, the Council as been consistently underspending on Core services – and should not have been raising Council Tax.
The latest Labour Tax Rise imposed on residents produces just under £1.1 million extra a year for Luton Council. The underspend for one year alone dwarfs this. Meanwhile, the Council has refused TWO Government grants, one for 2012-13 (when they were among about 1 in 10 Councils to raise Council Tax), and one covering 2013-2015.
Labour are so sensitive over the figure that finance chief Robin Harris told an Executive meeting last week that the underspend was £6.2 million. Labour are using a figure taking into account money they wish to carry forward for projects this year. The true rise is from £5.5M to £10.24M – and stated on the third page of the report.
Luton Liberal Democrat Deputy Leader, Martin Pantling said:
“ Once again, the declared underspend by the Council at a time they are shouting about having no money has risen dramatically. Regardless of how they try to dress it up otherwise, figures up to the end of February tell us that they underspent their main Budget for services by ten and a quarter million pounds. At a time they have been turning down money on offer from the Government and announcing appalling cuts to services.”
“Residents who are having to pay more Council Tax every year will also be outraged to know this underspend could have covered the increase for the next 10 years if Labour had not taken a political decision to refuse the Government grants on offer.”