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Stroud Singled Out for Crippling Cuts to Government Grant

On Thursday the “rainbow coalition” on Stroud District Council set a prudent and fiscally sound budget for the next 4 years, despite draconian cuts from central Government.

The budget will ensure no cuts in services, or sell off of any council property (like the Leisure Centre or the Subscription Rooms!) in the near future. But the cuts in the money Stroud District gets from Central Government are scheduled to be more and more severe, and in three years’ time (2019/20) the government is threatening to steal over £500,000 from the rate payers of Stroud to give to George Osbourne to fill holes in his failed management of the economy.

The process by which the government grant has been arrived at is not transparent. Stroud has been singled out for more severe cuts than any of the Tory-run councils in Gloucestershire, and the assumption is that this is related to its slightly better current financial position.

Green Cllr Martin Whiteside said “Stroud District Council has been well run and has built some reserves… it is outrageous that Central Government is penalising a well-run Council like Stroud District by taking money from us to bail out the less well-run.”

Cllr Simon Pickering, Green, reminded fellow councillors that “Stroud is the leading local authority in Gloucestershire. We are the only Council still providing Council housing to families, low income and vulnerable residents. We are the only Council that has adopted a local plan which meets new housing needs while protecting our natural resources and quality of life.”

“We are being penalised by George Osbourne’s incompetence, not [just] through lower revenues but by actually handing over more than half a million pounds to help bail him out of poor management,” added Cllr Pickering. He also pointed out that a four year funding agreement “means little coming from a government with a record of changing its mind and moving the goal posts.”

Stroud District Council was also forced to accept new rules related to the sale of council houses, and a 1% reduction in rents that will seriously challenge the ongoing provision of affordable quality homes for Stroud residents.

“We are one of the few Councils building new Council Houses to meet the desperate need for affordable homes, and yet George Osborne’s unfair interventions risk undermining the excellent progress we have made. Young families in Stroud in particular will suffer as a result,” said Cllr Whiteside.

In the budget year 2018/19 Stroud District Council will be forced to send £77,000 back to the central government. This “penalty for good management” will increase to an estimated £549,000 by the following year. Councillor Martin Whiteside said “this is basically theft by the Tory Government from Stroud District and our council tax payers”.