In a rare sign of political unity in Walsall this week, a motion by the Walsall Council Labour Group condemning cuts by the coalition government to both council tax benefit and housing benefit has won the support of Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors, according to a press release from the Group.
The amended motion was passed unanimously at Monday night’s full council meeting, criticising the 10 per cent cut affecting OAP’s, single parent families and the unemployed.
Walsall, like other town halls, will have to pass on the cuts or fund the difference from its own budget which is already facing a £13 million reduction forced upon it by the government.
The proposed cuts in council tax and housing benefits are apparently expected to amount to £3.3 million in Walsall and hit some 4,000 households.
Cllr Sean Coughlan, Deputy Leader of Walsall Labour Group, said the fact that the motion won cross party support spoke volumes about the hardship the cuts would create.
“It is not often that politicians speak with one voice on contentious issues but everyone in the council can see the harm and misery that these cuts will create in areas like our own where we have high levels of unemployment and deprivation.
“These cuts will come into effect from April, just as the government gives enormous tax breaks to millionaires but working families on low incomes, pensioners and the unemployed will be faced with the choice of either paying the rent or buying food.”
Debating the motion, Liberal Democrat leader, Ian Shires, described the changes as ‘botched.’
Conservative Council Leader, Mike Bird, went further – saying that the government was forcing councils to do their dirty work leaving families to choose ‘between paying the bills and feeding their kids.’
Cllr Coughlan added:
“When the Coalition Government’s own supporters are describing their own parties’ polices in such terms, it’s time that Cameron and Clegg realised the destructive impact they are having on people’s lives”
For more information on the Labour Party in Walsall, see: Walsall Council Labour Group