Labour’s Cardiff City Council has said that it needs to raise taxes year on year in order to make up a budget shortfall of around £56million in 2016, possibly rising to £145million by the end of the 2019.
Instead of cutting costs and creating greater efficiencies for the city, the Labour-run council is talking about raising council taxes by a whopping 4.5 per cent, against an average rise of 0.9 per cent for England.
The council has been plagued by mismanagement for years, with profligate and wasteful spending at the heart of its problems.
Just one week ago, the former deputy leader of Cardiff council, Ralph Cook, attacked his Labour Party colleagues, stating: “The leadership doesn’t understand how to co-ordinate the group or run the city… There are sufficient silent people in the group who let it happen.”
The city has been blighted by Welsh national government priorities too, such as a two per cent recycling target, which the city is being forced to impose against the wishes of its constituents. Residents will be forced to use smaller bins and bin bags, causing worries that rubbish will spill out into the streets, and simply not be collected.
But the solutions being floated are far from what you might expect of an overspending, overstretched organisation. Instead of trimming the fat, Cardiff’s Labour councillors are toying with the idea of spending a quarter of a million pounds setting up a public-private partnership firm – corporatism at its finest – in order to “outsource” the work to itself.
The move will take costs off the books in the short term, but much like the national Labour government’s Private Finance Initiative schemes for NHS hospitals, could leave the taxpayer with an even larger bill.
The council’s finance director, Christine Salter said: “Achieving a balanced budget in 2016/17 will be extremely challenging. Beyond that date and particularly in relation to 2018/19 there is real potential for the council to be unable to achieve a balanced budget unless radical policies and strategies are adopted by the council in relation to the delivery of services.”
In February of this year, Labour councillors promised even more cash for new day cares, drug centres, and play groups, despite the budgetary shortfall. One reason for this is that Cardiff is currently deemed as the “fastest growing city in the United Kingdom”, with “90% of the growth in [Wales being] due to migration”.
Experts expect the Welsh capital to grow by around 30 per cent by 2036.