The Council Tax: An Analysis

It’s actually impossible to debate issues such as taxation, public services, cuts, police numbers, anti-social behaviour, knife crime etc etc without considering the national picture and the policies of central government.

A couple of centuries ago, the government of the day decided that it would be a good idea to collect taxes from the people who were earning (now known as Income Tax) and to spend it on public services that benefit society – including and especially the most vulnerable (who previously had to go begging at the Poorhouse and to Charities).

With the advent of the Welfare State and Labour’s National Health Service, everyone became entitled to health care free at the point of delivery and those who were particularly disadvantaged were saved from destitution by Welfare benefits and a range of support services.

Income taxes paid for public services like education/schools, health services, police and fire services and a range of public services provided by local authorities which improved the quality of people’s lives.

This has been the accepted way for any responsible government to govern. Not any more!

In the hope that readers will be fully aware of them, I won’t detail the unprecedented attack on public services which has taken place since 2010. I expect we’re all aware of the massive cuts to education/schools, health services, police, fire & rescue services, tax credits and benefit entitlements, as well as the huge cuts to local authority funding from central government forcing Councils to make massive and disastrous cuts to services.

To understand the truth behind the increase in our Council Tax bills, everyone should note the words: “Revenue Support Grant £0M – WE NO LONGER RECEIVE ANY FUNDING FROM CENTRAL GOVERNMENT”.

Council funding (to provide crucial public services) is now funded entirely by Council Tax (82%), Business rates (16%) and Other (2%). Nothing comes from the government. NOTHING IS PAID FOR BY OUR INCOME TAXES!!

So, just to make this clear….. our government is now choosing to significantly reduce funding public services from our income taxes (or other governmental tax income such as VAT). The centuries-old responsible mode of government has been disregarded and abolished.

Instead, we pay ever-increasing Council Tax bills…. and we have to do so with our NET earnings – with the money that we earn AFTER PAYING THE INCOME TAX WHICH SHOULD BE PAYING FOR PUBLIC SERVICES!!

For those who are interested in such things (and we all should be), there is a further issue regarding democracy and power. In a decent democracy, there are ‘checks and balances’ on the power of government (which helps to prevent autocratic and un-checked government and gives people additional choice to have their voices heard and to participate in the democratic process).

For decades, the two main checks and balances (for the people) on governmental power were the Unions and Local Authorities. The power of Unions was effectively destroyed by the Thatcher government and the current government has been systematically destroying Local Authorities (and their ability to be an effective check on central government power and policy) by sweeping cuts to budgets/public services.

I know people (and most posters) are talking about this as a local issue (and I understand that, given that we have amongst the highest Council Tax bills in the country). However, this is not a local issue! Thinking of it only in local terms is missing the bigger picture!

Tom Lane

Are you satisfied with your council tax bill? Are you getting value for money?