Saturday, 5 January 2013

The Budget - Council Tax Needs to Freeze for years to come

I remember the days when water rates and council tax were just one bill and a tiny part of my monthly outgoings.

I can't remember when the two were split but the council tax debit sitting proudly on my bank statement focused my mind to think about how my money was being spent on public services.

I don't think any of us begrudged paying our fair share but

That was until Labour in Ipswich decided that several good hikes was just the ticket.

If I remember rightly it went up by about 18% altogether, in a very short time, and of course any percentage rise on top of this was compounded to a point I became rather resentful.

The monthly bill became a shocker and so big that it's irreversible now. Furthermore I believe much of it was wasted. In Cyprus and Italy where I travel to most for holidays and to see family, council tax is tiny in comparison to UK. Cyprus average is something like £ 18 per month and the bins are emptied a couple of times per week!

I found this shown below, on the Conservative Homes by local government minister Brandon Lewis and it sums up my feelings exactly. But more importantly than my opinion, is what the residents of Ipswich think so please I invite you to comment on this page on how you think, going forward, we should tackle council tax in the yearly budget. should we even consider reducing it by a 1 or 2 % & find further savings? Or are you happy for it to be raised every year. Would a freeze for a few years really help your own household budget?


"No excuse for Council Tax rises

Local Government Minister Brandon Lewis says councils will become less dependant on funding from the centre
The priority for councillors and their officers, over the next few weeks, will be the preparation of their final draft budget for the next financial year. These decisions will determine whether residents face council tax increases when the new bills drop through the letterbox in late March.
With the Government providing funding for another council tax freeze, most people can look forward to no change in their bill. In real terms, under this government, council tax has been able to fall, following year-after-year of eye watering increases that saw the household liability double under the last Labour government.

Obviously, I hope that every Conservative Council across the country will deliver a council tax freeze – there is no excuse not to. Of course, with County Council elections only a few months away, there is an additional incentive for councillors to deliver this key Conservative election pledge. At the General Election, this policy was extremely popular on the doorstep. It continues to remain popular as people face other rising household bills. I know some Conservative administrations plan to go even further, having calculated they can do so, by pledging a freeze for four further years.

Many councils were left a financial time bomb by the last Labour government. Eric Pickles, and the DCLG team, found additional funding to assist them in making changes to put them on a firmer financial footing. The government invested millions, to assist with a move to cut back office costs, share management and provide shared services. All aimed at providing a better long-term deal for the local taxpayer.

Many council leaders relished the challenge and drove forward massive reform in their councils; others dodged the responsibility preferring to blame central government for all their problems.

To be fair, some continue to suffer from Labour’s botched local government finance structure, that is why we are giving them an additional two years efficiency grant funding. My own council is one of these and I hope they will take advantage of almost £2 million to move away from a “silo management structure” that is unsustainable in a small local authority."

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