Harrow Conservatives believe their council should look closer to home when it comes to criticising financial management, after its latest budget was approved.

Cllr Paul Osborn, leader of the borough’s Conservative Group, questioned the decision to hike council tax by 4.99 per cent while implementing service cuts.

He also took a swipe at its regeneration policy – suggesting that money has been spent poorly – and its work with “bankrupt” companies.

It comes after Harrow Council’s Labour administration “proudly” presented a balanced budget for 2019/20, which leaves its reserves untouched.

Cllr Adam Swersky, responsible for finance at Harrow Council, highlighted the protection of key services, such as adult social care and housing, and pointed out that the authority has been facing cuts to its central government funding year after year.

But Cllr Osborn believes the council has not helped itself and that this will make things tougher for those living in Harrow.

He said: “Labour are once again increasing council tax by nearly five per cent and making cuts to services in their budget.

“They blame central government for this despite wasting around £35 million on a failing regeneration scheme.

“As well as this, they have set up a number of companies which have gone bankrupt. As a result, Harrow residents are paying the price for Labour’s financial mismanagement.”

Cllr Swersky said he is under no illusions that the situation is tough for local authorities across the country with many “walking a tightrope”.

He explained that 97 per cent of councils have increased council tax, while more than half have been forced to use reserves in some capacity.

He has urged the Government to reverse its policy of cutting council funding and wants it to protect outer-London boroughs in the upcoming fair funding review.