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Labour-run South Tyneside increases Council Tax by 2.9% and cuts services

The Foreign Secretary David Milliband turned up in Hammersmith last week to attack the record of my council. He appeared to have been given a dodgy dossier before hand. He said the "people who bear the brunt" of our policies "are the people who pay £12.40 an hour for elderly home care."

In fact this charge is £10.50 an hour currently and proposed to increase to £10.70 an hour in 2010/11. The  average charge for London is £13.50. Only one council in London and four in the country do not charge for home care. Out of 78,000 households around 1,750 to 1,800 people receive home care and only 340 people have been invoiced for home care. Only those who can afford to do so are asked to make this contribution to the cost of their care. these are not easy decisions for councils to make. The issue is: Should a Home Care user on a high income have the service free or subsidised at the expense of a Council Taxpayer on a low income?

I hope Mr Milliband is better briefed on Iraq and Afghanistan.

What of Mr Milliband's own council? He is the Labour MP for South Shields which comes under South Tyneside Council. They are increasing the Council Tax by 2.71% but at their budget meeting this week rejected cutting spending on consultants or councillor allowances. They spend £2.3 million on printing and photocopying. Another £120,000 goes on funding full time trade union posts.

However they have made cuts in street cleaning, cut physiotherapy service, cut support for museums and the arts and put up council rents by 2.9%. Tenants in sheltered housing are facing an 20% increase in heating charges. His caring council also plans savings by closing the area's main centre for dementia care. Dissent in the Labour Council on Government care for the elderly failings is gagged.

Oh yes. When it comes to home help charges last year Mr Miliband's Labour Council increased them to £10.80 an hour. Not only does South Tyneside charge more for home care than Hammersmith and Fulham, they also charge a Band D Council Tax of £1,410.21and rising. In Hammersmith and Fulham the Band D Council Tax is going down to £811.78 this year.

You can read more here from the excellent Conservative opposition leader Cllr David Potts. I could go on about South Tyneside Council but instead I offer the Foreign Secretary a deal: You stop telling lies about my council, and I'll stop telling the truth about yours.


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