Wednesday, September 29, 2010

City Council Tax U-Turn Welcome

We tentatively welcome the news that the city council seems to be coming round to our way of thinking and is planning a council tax freeze for 2011/12.

Local Conservatives were delighted when George Osborne announced in Autumn 2008 that a Conservative government would provide for two years the funding to enable a council tax freeze for councils that keep their rises to just 2.5%. This good news was consistently rubbished by local Liberal Democrats despite Chris repeatedly calling for the city council to plan to take advantage of the offer. The county council, however, very sensibly signed up to the deal.

Unfortunately, not winning the general election outright, this pledge had to be watered down to one year only (with a second year as an aspiration), but the good news is that now the Liberal Democrats are part of the coalition they no longer feel the need to oppose it for the sake of it.

The council's medium term strategy currently in force plans for a 3.5% tax rise this year. Executive councillors agreed at a meeting on Friday to recommend a new strategy which plans for a council tax freeze this year followed by 2% increases. This is certainly an improvement and to be welcomed. The final decision on the strategy will be made by full council on 8th November and the budget and council tax levels for next year at meetings in 2011.

The new MTS slightly pessimistically assumes that the central government funding for the freeze will not be forthcoming. I was previously calling for a cut in councillor allowances to trigger this funding. If the council is looking to make the saving in other ways then I call on them also to reduce the councillor allowances by 33%. This would then enable a council tax cut of 1.25% - welcome relief to hard-pressed residents.

1 comment:

cobweb said...

But at the same time making it harder for the council to provide essential services. I don't call that sensible.