Council tax – smoke and mirrors

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The first rumblings as to which councils may or may not put up their council tax this coming year have brought a response from Eric Pickles stating that £450 million extra is available to those councils that freeze their tax again this year.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/9871824/Defiant-councils-planning-tax-rises.html
All seems quite fair in a time of restraint and static wages and ever rising prices – but all is not what it appears to be.

We are told that services are being cut to comply with freeze in budget but if effective cuts are being made why the clamor for tax rises to maintain basic services? If they are getting rid of non essential services, then balancing the books should not be a problem.

But we are forgetting that councils are not run in an efficient way as judged by outside the public sector so what we would judge as essential is not what the council does.

And where are the cuts in the outrageous CEO and other officers’ pay or reduction in managerial stratas? It’s always the threat of cutting frontline services that is used to justify more tax.

They are still at our council, as I suspect at many others, sending out a coloured newspaper twice a year telling us how marvellous they are, they still supply all literature in God knows how many languages despite this being at the moment still a mainly indigenous Britain and you are still told on the phone if you call them in a never ending repeated message of all the things they can do for you if you push button 1 to 5, why is all this non essential rubbish still going on?

The big lie is the one of income. Not only are council taxes still rising in the so called frozen councils, but in the last dozen years there has been an explosion of extra income streams that in total now equal the council tax itself. Where does it all go? All this extra money and they have been cutting back on bin collections, street cleaning (almost invisible now) and all the other everyday things we think we are paying for.

As I said, the tax has still been going up as they push certain items onto Parish councils who are not restrained and of course the Police precept is never frozen and has been rising well above inflation for what seems forever. Most of that goes of course towards their pension pot so they can retire at 48 after 30 years or whatever it is service – none of this is ever tackled in a meaningful way.

From a purely personal point of view, they should be getting back to core services the bloating of the public sector has been out of control for decades and the council tax itself is a totally unfair tax anyway as it’s not based on any ability to pay and the majority of households either pay nothing or are rebated in some way, the Community Tax was abandoned after being badly implemented by the Conservatives despite being a much fairer system, so although Eric Pickles is putting on a good front in his war on profligate councils, he’s not telling the whole truth, but then what politician ever did?

The picture at the top and the header are deliberate.

council taxSome years ago my sister and I arranged for the transfer out of the borough to another area for my mother, all the problems were at the above council’s end, rarely got the same person twice, so everything had to be gone through again.

Genuinely couldn’t understand what some of them were saying and in one case was accused indirectly of being racist because of that! And don’t phone after two on Fridays as no one is available – total ….holes.

5 comments for “Council tax – smoke and mirrors

  1. Greg Tingey
    February 18, 2013 at 7:51 am

    What’s happening, OF COURSE, is that, irrespective of political party in charge, real, essential services (like LIbraries) are being cut, whilst the numbers of Council “managers” continues unabated.
    The remaing few actual council workers, & the many thousands of others, transferred to crooked or incompetent “contractors” are being screwed, of course.

  2. February 18, 2013 at 9:21 am

    Yes, agreed on the facts as presented, but Council Tax is a red herring, it only covers a small part of local council spending (the rest is paid out of national taxes rerouted from Whitehall) and is only about five per cent of all taxes raised in the UK.

    • wiggiatlarge
      February 18, 2013 at 4:04 pm

      What you say is true Mark, but of course the council tax is paid by a minority of house dwellers or owners so to them it constitutes a much larger proportion of the overall tax they pay.

  3. WitteringsfromWitney
    February 18, 2013 at 9:31 am

    All the more reason then for having budgets agreed beforehand by means of a detailed estimate of how much and where the money is to be spent. It is after all our money and who but an idiot employs someone and then hands them a bank cheque?

    Bring on “referism” both nationally and locally!

  4. February 18, 2013 at 10:47 am

    Yes, let’s have another run at referism here. Needs a post.

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