Sunday, 9 September 2007

Council Tax

Last week saw the start of the process of putting St Edmundsbury Borough Council's budget together, which will end in February with the decision about the level of Council Tax.

Policy Development Committee will be looking at a number of options and, as St Edmundsbury's Portfolio Holder with budget responsibility, I am keen to encourage our community in a debate about what is, and is not, acceptable. Where more appropriate to start than my new combined blog?

As a result of our costs rising above inflation, inadequate government grants, the need to fund new initiatives and the loss of interest from expenditure on capital projects, we have to find nearly one million pounds in savings or income next year. So there are some difficult decisions to be made. The alternatives are stark – we either put up Council Tax or we cut our costs and increase our income.

Hiking up the Council Tax means that everyone pays. Cutting the amount of money we give to others and looking at charging for some services means the user pays.

Should we be looking to cut grants? Charge for car parking at our country parks? Make festival tickets more expensive? Charge more for collecting bulky goods? Or do we keep these all at the current levels and simply put up Council Tax to cover the increased costs we face in the coming year? (And what do we do the following year?)

What do people prefer – or find the lesser of the evils? That's the kind of debate I want to start.


Christine Melsom said...

We are all waiting for the Political Parties to state their cases. The suggestion from David Cameron that people should receive a discount if they have energy saving homes is once again aimed at the wrong section of the community. Pensioners and the low paid cannot afford to install new windows, appliances etc., and therefore will not qualify for discounts. They already pay the largest percentage of their income in council tax, this will only inflate that even further. The people find Council Tax the most Odious tax. Send it packing and replace it with a system that takes in the ability to pay from income.
Join the Isitfair Campaign calling for the reform of the council tax syhstem

Paul Farmer said...

Welcome to my site Christine. I may not agree with you, but I thank you for your contribution. ome back soon.

david said...

Taxing people rather than properties has been tried before and led to the downfall of our best post-war prime minister. People move around and this needs tracking by an army of administrators whereas houses stand still. Fewer staff are needed to run this method of raising revenue for local authorities.

Council Tax is in need of reform to make it fairer and, sadley, Lyons ducked this issue. But that shouldn't be given as a reason to scrap what is essentially a sound system of public finance.