Council budget debate goes on!

SSHarrow council prides itself for being one of a minority of councils in the UK that is ‘not expecting to raid its financial reserves next year’ – despite facing massive cutbacks in government funding.
Cllr Sachin Shah, leader of Harrow Council, said, “I take being careful with your money very seriously. Reserves are for emergencies. That’s why we are cutting our cloth to what we’ve got”.
But opposition leader councillor Paul Osborn questions the council leader’s budget assertion.
“In their Final Revenue Budget 2018/19 which they approved at Cabinet and Council in February, it makes it clear that the only reason they have not touched the reserves this year is because they are not allowed to do so” says Cllr Osborn.Paul Osborn
In his budget statement, Cllr Sachin Shah also said, “We are making hard choices every day. Some councils, like Northamptonshire, have run out of money – with disastrous consequences. Our job is to make sure that doesn’t happen in Harrow.”
In responding to the council leader’s stated approach to keep the council in a healthy financial state, Cllr Osborn points out overspend in this year’s budget, resulting  in running down reserves as the Quarter 3 figures in the budget show ‘a draw down from reserves of £2.815m’.
Commenting on the appropriateness  of the administration’s financial decisions, Cllr Osborn said, “They have run the reserves down to a minimum whilst also making Harrow residents pay £421 more on average on Council tax since Labour took control of the Council”.
“They have not been careful with public money and cannot be trusted to do so” he added.
Like many local authorities, Harrow Council has raised Council Tax this year by 2.99% plus 0.5% in a government-authorised precept to pay for rising costs of adult social care.