Council Tax to increase?

Town HallFollowing rumours that Bury Council may be set to turn down a Government grant to freeze Council and instead increase Council Tax by 3.7% in line with other Labour-controlled Councils in Greater Manchester, Eric Pickles – the Secretary of State with responsibility for local government has given a clear message that Council Tax increases this year cannot be justified. 
Let us see if our Labour-controlled Council take note before the Budget is set in February.
He said:

Trusting the people is the very bulwark of democracy

If you need to raise Council Tax, just be straight with people

Take them into your confidence

Don’t treat them as fools

Be confident

People will listen to a sensible case

But the voters aren’t stupid either

They will spot it if you try to pull the wool over their eyes

Like the democracy dodgers who try creep in under the radar, putting up their tax by 1.99 per cent.

Remember if you freeze the government will pay a grant equivalent to 1% so the raise is only about 0.9%.

If your officers tell you they can’t find 0.9%, my advice is get new officers.

If your officers say it is only in the base for two years remind them that NOTHING is in the base at the start of a new spending review.

The smug incrementalist approach to local government finance just makes the problem worse,

Anybody using loop holes, cheating their taxpayers, we will make sure they pay next year.

I want to open up this Secret State, and ensure their council tax setting is accountable directly to the people, and their policy decisions are open and transparent.

For example, in Manchester, their council tax this year is being forced up by a botched PFI deal signed by the unelected Waste Authority.

A 25 year deal which means they are paying double the market rates to dispose of their residual waste.

A deal which, despite funding to maintain weekly collections, has forced Councils into a double whammy of both fortnightly bin collections for some of its residents and higher taxes.

These details are buried in the small print of Manchester City’s budget this year.

A shoddy deal by a shadowy, unelected body, with no-one taking responsibility, and local taxpayers left with service cuts and higher taxes.

That isn’t local democracy. It’s municipal autocracy.