Council tax and rent rises confirmed

Leeds Civic Hall.
Leeds Civic Hall.

Homeowners in Morley will pay nearly two per cent more on their council tax after Leeds City Council agreed its heavily slashed budget for the next financial year.

Cuts from central government have resulted in the local authority being forced to find £44m worth of savings for 2015/16, on top of the £129m that has been cut since 2010.

Council tenants will also see a 2.88 per cent hike to their rent.

61 out of 99 councillors voted in favour of the budget, after 10 out of the 11 amendments tabled were rejected.

Among them was a suggestion from the Conservative group to slash trade union subsidies at the expense of the eventually finalised 1.99 per cent council tax rise.

One change was that adopted was a £50,000 promise to set up community shops in the city selling edible out-of-date food, suggested by the Green group.

Coun Neil Dawson, of Labour, said that Westminster had left the council in a “tough place”.

He added: “This is an attack on local government. Despite the rhetoric of devolution we’ve seen caps on spending and budgets reduced.

“Our priority as a council has been on children and adults services - areas which have seen slight increases in spending - but that has meant that in other areas we have had to cut.”

Coun Robert Finnigan, leader of the Morley Borough Independents furthered recent calls from politicians in the region for powers to be handed down from national government.

He said: “The major parties in Westminster don’t trust local government and they don’t want to pass down the power and enable us to make decisions locally.

“We need a commitment to ensure that local authorities can be funded fairly.

“The financing needs to be clear, fair and transparent and not open to manipulation from central government.”

Despite the squeeze, the budget did produce some winners, with 1,500 of the council’s least paid staff handed a pay rise of up to 10 per cent as a result of the authority’s adoption of the Living Wage.