Councillors engaged in a fractious debate about government cuts after one representative argued that “austerity is living within one’s means”.

Harrow Council’s ruling Labour group proposed a motion at its meeting on Thursday calling for an end to austerity and its impact on local government.

It pointed out that local authorities across the country face a funding gap of £7.5 billion by 2025 in order to maintain the situation.

But Conservative councillor Susan Hall defended her party’s economic policies, saying it made sure it did not spend money it did not have.

Her point was backed up by her colleagues – Cllr Paul Osborn, leader of Harrow Conservatives, said Labour “did not want to hear reality”.

“If you want to fix the problems in this country, the basis we have to do it on is a strong economy,” he said.

“You can’t run a Venezuela-style economy – it simply doesn’t work if you keep spending.”

But Cllr Hall’s comments about austerity were quickly rounded on by several Labour councillors, who gave examples of poverty and hardship in the borough.

“I think we have a different opinion on what austerity is,” said Cllr Graham Henson, leader of Harrow Council.

“It was a political dogma which attacked the underprivileged of society. It destroyed people’s lives, it completely failed, and it has to stop.”

He expressed his shock at seeing so many people in the UK – “one of the richest countries in the world” – resorting to food banks.

And Cllr Adam Swersky asked whether the Government could seriously tell the “homeless people sleeping at Harrow-on-the-Hill station” or those on Universal Credit to “live within their means”.

Cllr Henson said: “Quite frankly, this has gone on long enough.

“Councils cannot be expected to run their services on a shoestring budget – we need proper funding for the vital services we provide.”

The motion was passed due to the council’s Labour majority, with councillors voting along party lines.