Monday, May 3, 2010

Bower's Contract: 1. Lower Council Tax

This is the first of a series of posts running up to the city council election on Thursday in which I will cover my five main pledges to Coleridge to which I would work if elected.

Every Conservative should put the taxpayer foremost when dealing with taxpayers' money. That means that every pound is spent well.

Cambridge City Council has been increasing council tax by 4.5% year on year. For this general election year only they are raising it by only 2.5% but have planned to raised it by 3.5% and then 4.5% in the following years. That means an Olympic-sized cumulative tax rise of 11% by the Olympic year of 2012.

I would push for the city council to keep council tax rises down to 2.5% or lower for the next two years so that they can benefit from the council tax freeze promised by the Conservatives nationally if, as we all must hope, they get elected. In contrast the Conservative-run county council is planning 2.5% rises for those years, meaning council tax bills would be frozen.

The graph above shows council tax rises after the application of the Conservative national council tax freeze for frugal councils that keep their rises below 2.5% by 2.5% matching funding.

The full Conservative policy on the city council for keeping council tax low is on pages 10 and 11 of our manifesto.

We need a new culture at the city council to keep council tax under control. Instead of incremental budget changes that are thoroughly opaque we should instigate 'zero-based budgeting' whereby all expenditure is justified afresh and the council doesn't just keep on doing things which may not be to taxpayers' benefit because they haven't been identified.

David Cameron has the right idea when he talks about Labour’s ‘carnival of waste’:
I know there are those who will hear us talking about cut waste and say "you'll be no different, you'll have your pet projects, you'll go native when you start living in the land of bureaucrats". So let me explain why we'll be different. We'll be different because we are different. First, our attitude is different. Conservatives loathe waste. Efficiency is in our DNA. We never forget that fundamental fact about public money, which is that it's public, it's yours, not ours. It doesn't undergo some magical transformation at the Treasury to become government money. Those are the same pounds that were earned by you on the factory floor, on the hospital ward, in the office and we will never forget that we have a moral duty not to spend your money but to save it where we can.
Good government costs less with the Conservatives!

I would do my best to keep council tax down, following the best practices of Conservative councils across the UK and taking a lead by calling for councillor allowances to be cut by 10%.

1 comment:

NickW said...

Easy. Cut Local Government back to what it used to be - local core services when the Councils Officers had job titles people actually understood. (Reference her is to District Councils).

Building Control Officer, Planning Officer, Housing Officer, Environmental Health Officer, Chief Finance Officer, Chief Legal Officer. An HR dept that constituted no more than 1% of payroll - take a close look at Cambridge and do the Maths;-)

Get back to basics and strip out all the nonsense job titles, nonsense roles and nonsense people and I gaurantee services will be far better at far lower cost.

A final tip for prospective candidates - cut out any post that includes the word 'Strategy'. Setting the strategic goals of the Council is for elected members - peoples representatives.

Council officers are there to provide technical advice and deliver the strategies - ie an Operational.