Support in tough times

I WOULD like to address some of the very misleading comments about council tax and the council budget made by M Skidmore in a letter in last week’s Express.

The council spends around £700m each year on providing services across the district.

Only £112m of this spend is funded by council tax, the rest is funded mainly from direct government grants plus some income from fees and charges levied on some council services.

Only 16 per cent of what the council spends is therefore paid for directly by council tax payers. This means that for every £1 that the council spends on services, only 16p is funded from council tax.

Government funding to the council (and the public sector in general) has been cut severely since the coalition government came to power in 2010.

We have had to reduce our spending by £41m over the last two years with more significant cuts in funding to come over the next few years.

The council’s budget priority is, as far as possible, to protect services for the most vulnerable people and those in need from the impact of these cuts in funding.

Most of what the council spends is determined by need and not by geographic location.

Around £550m of the council’s £700m spend is on schools, housing benefit and council tax benefit and family services – adult social care and child protection.

The regeneration budget, which the letter refers to, covers a wide range of services.

Every £1 spent on the regeneration budget can be analysed as follows:

Highways maintenance, traffic management, car parks and street lighting – 43p.

Sports provision and development – 16p.

Libraries, museums, arts and culture – 18p.

Planning – 5p.

Other services – 18p.

These are tough times for us all and I can assure readers that we will continue to do all we can to support the people of Pontefract and everyone else in the district.

COUN GRAHAM STOKES

Wakefield Council cabinet

member for corporate services