Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Eagle

Council Tax Frozen again

Recommended Posts

May will not really decide this issue though will it, unless the Council had the balls to go for what rise they actually need in which case a referendum could have been carried out at the same time and saved money.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
nice indeed!

 

no wonder we have husband and wife teams and career councillors!

well it seems the Hannons claimed well over 40 grand between them.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

40 grand?????

 

Can you imagine how much would be claimed if we ever got city status or they got to handle even bigger budgets???

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PJ - Of course I can answer the question, I was otherwise engaged dealing with travellers and preparing for tonight's Budget meeting.

 

The Government freeze grant offers the equivalent of 1%. Putting aside the issue of keeping the baseline low and being left at a disadvantage if there were no further freeze grants on offer, then you are in the region of 1-2% in contemplating an increase. The 2% referendum level is low and needs to be seen in the context of the cuts. WBC's funding is reduced by 14.1% this year, equivalent to £8.5m in grant funding or £41/resident. We took the freeze grant in the first few years but have declined to do so now. We don't set out to sail as close to 2% as possible - we arrived at 1.98% a year for 4 years at last year's budget in recognition of the continuing cuts agenda and on the basis that it was preferable to yet more cuts in services.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We all know that, they all know that we all know but they don't want to admit that they are afraid of the people that they hope will keep them in their positions. Perhaps they think the people of this town are too stupid to be trusted to decide whats best for ourselves but don't fancy saying so.

 

A bit of honesty can't be totally alien to them?????

 

 

p.s. If I was personally given the vote on say a 3% rise in my Council tax or a cut in vital services such as we have seen in meals on wheels for the aged then I would turn turkey and vote for the rise. I know I am fortunate to be in a position to make that choice but it would be nice to get the chance. It is about £3.57 per month for me.

PJ - I have already answered this on Page 2...

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PJ - Message understood about cuts/savings. The £15.5m for next year is due to Government funding cuts, increased demand on (and therefore underfunded) services and being given more responsibility but no money to deliver. By 2018/19, we expect WBC to be effectively self-sufficient, in that Government funding through the Revenue Support Grant will be nil, leaving us with Council Tax, Business Rates (or at least the 27% that we are allowed to keep currently) and fees & charges. Something will then have to give - either proper financial devolution or else putting those kind of questions to residents that value and rely on the services provided. I am not remotely worried about having to ask that question if and when the time comes.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
PJ - Of course I can answer the question, I was otherwise engaged dealing with travellers and preparing for tonight's Budget meeting. The Government freeze grant offers the equivalent of 1%. Putting aside the issue of keeping the baseline low and being left at a disadvantage if there were no further freeze grants on offer, then you are in the region of 1-2% in contemplating an increase. The 2% referendum level is low and needs to be seen in the context of the cuts. WBC's funding is reduced by 14.1% this year, equivalent to £8.5m in grant funding or £41/resident. We took the freeze grant in the first few years but have declined to do so now. We don't set out to sail as close to 2% as possible - we arrived at 1.98% a year for 4 years at last year's budget in recognition of the continuing cuts agenda and on the basis that it was preferable to yet more cuts in services.

 

Not to mention increasing the numbers of councillors to manage those cuts in services, eh Russ? Plenty of money for that obviously. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If 1.98% yields 1.5 million and that is not enough why aren't you asking for more, from what you say the town clearly needs more just to stand still?  I know you may think me cynical but I find it ridiculous that you would deliberately set the council tax rate at well below what the shortfall is and what is required to keep services going.  Ask the people if they will dig a little deeper to help keep the vital services you will be cutting.  I know times are hard and a lot are struggling  but I would pay more for good services.  Don't be afraid of the people of this town, they keep you where you are.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
 We don't set out to sail as close to 2% as possible - we arrived at 1.98% a year for 4 years at last year's budget in recognition of the continuing cuts agenda and on the basis that it was preferable to yet more cuts in services.

 

and what would happen if the threshold were to be lowered to 1% from next year? 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

grey_man:  Any changes to the number of Councillors or the electoral cycle will be decided by the Boundary Commission, not by WBC.  The proposal from WBC is that increasing to 58 would allow better representation of the growing community in the west of Warrington, particularly with respect to Chapelford.  At the same time, the Council proposed moving to "all out" elections on a 4-year cycle.  The net effect of this would be a reduction in costs - £7.9k/y allowance for an additional Member and an average saving of £34k/y by not doing "election by thirds", i.e. running 3 sets of elections every 4 years.  Don't be fooled by those proposing sticking with 57 Members - they are only doing so because that number is divisible by 3 and they could keep elections by thirds, which is about their self-interest, not serving the people of Warrington.

 

PJ: You argue a fair case and I would hope that residents would support an argument of that kind - it would be up to politicians to sell based on clear evidence and commitments on what would be achieved with the additional money.  Taking this year as an example, a Council Tax rise just to standstill would have been more like 20%.  And that would be just this year - we have already made £77m of cuts and expect another £48m over the next 4 years.  That could never be fixed by Council Tax alone.  Local government finance is broken - some Councils may go the wall or else face mergers etc. just to survive.  A better option for Warrington would be to look at business rates, where we get to keep just 27% of the £100m+ that we collect each year.  If we were keeping a far greater proportion of business rates then we could be free of Government Revenue Support Grant and be truly self-sufficient based on our Council Tax and business rates alone. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bazj:  Whatever the threshold, the decision taken should be the right one for the authority based on its circumstances.  I wouldn't advocate increasing Council Tax just for the sake of it - the rise should be clearly linked to the needs of the Council and their financial position.  The whole referendum limit is rather perverse - the same logic didn't apply when the Government increased the standard VAT rate by ~15% in 2011!  Local authorities are best placed to decide on the level of Council Tax - their decisions will be judged alongside all others that they make at the ballot box. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The business rates have always been a con by government where the industrialised towns suffer all the detrimental effects whilst their money subsidises the leafy lanes in areas we will never be able to afford to live in. The council tax , in my opinion, should be a different equation where higher value houses are taxed higher than now. That said we have what we have re the regulations and what I would be worried about is the bigger the shortfall the harsher the cuts are going to be. What services will we lose this year Russ?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The latest report to Parliament on Referendums is at www.parliament.uk/briefing-papers/SN05682.pdf

 

I like this quote:

Professors George Jones and John Stewart wrote as follows to the Local Government Chronicle:

The local budget is the result of a process of balancing expenditure priorities, which cannot be expressed in a simple yes/no question. It damages representative democracy since it destroys the whole point of local elections, if elected councillors see their judgments based on their electoral promises overturned in a referendum called by a minister.

 

If we could have a referendum where we individualised the effects of a higher Council tax - e.g. you get more home help, you pay lower car park charges, you keep Sunday evening bus services, you get weekl bin collections - then it's easier to quantify the effects, but it's not like that. As Russ says, no referendum on increasing VAT was there?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Local council has no say in the rate of VAT so that's a nonsense analogy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Did you all make a promise to put up the Council Tax rate in your election campaign then Steve?

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
grey_man:  Any changes to the number of Councillors or the electoral cycle will be decided by the Boundary Commission, not by WBC.  The proposal from WBC is that increasing to 58 would allow better representation of the growing community in the west of Warrington, particularly with respect to Chapelford.  At the same time, the Council proposed moving to "all out" elections on a 4-year cycle.  The net effect of this would be a reduction in costs - £7.9k/y allowance for an additional Member and an average saving of £34k/y by not doing "election by thirds", i.e. running 3 sets of elections every 4 years.  Don't be fooled by those proposing sticking with 57 Members - they are only doing so because that number is divisible by 3 and they could keep elections by thirds, which is about their self-interest, not serving the people of Warrington.

 

PJ: You argue a fair case and I would hope that residents would support an argument of that kind - it would be up to politicians to sell based on clear evidence and commitments on what would be achieved with the additional money.  Taking this year as an example, a Council Tax rise just to standstill would have been more like 20%.  And that would be just this year - we have already made £77m of cuts and expect another £48m over the next 4 years.  That could never be fixed by Council Tax alone.  Local government finance is broken - some Councils may go the wall or else face mergers etc. just to survive.  A better option for Warrington would be to look at business rates, where we get to keep just 27% of the £100m+ that we collect each year.  If we were keeping a far greater proportion of business rates then we could be free of Government Revenue Support Grant and be truly self-sufficient based on our Council Tax and business rates alone. 

 

So because 57 members is plenty given the reduced workload, we could save even more money with a change to the electoral cycle?   

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PJ: There is an obvious analogy to VAT - what is good enough for local government should be good enough for national government.  How can it be reasonable to restrict Council Tax rises when there are no such restrictions on other forms of taxation? Local government should make local decisions based on their circumstances, without meddling and interference from Government - especially one that advocates Localism but merely pays lip service to it.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PJ:  I agree about revaluations, it seems nonsensical that properties are still banded according to >20 year old valuations, although there are already rebandings for houses where extensions have been built etc.

 

Logically, the bigger the shortfall then the more pressure there is on services.  The Budget is available on the WBC website at:

 

http://cmis.warrington.gov.uk/cmis5/Document.ashx?czJKcaeAi5tUFL1DTL2UE4zNRBcoShgo=OvFXUaV%2fSDWf4joyxX0JKCuENBc9kN9yRBwCo4%2fhVioX4Aj7BseCkg%3d%3d&rUzwRPf%2bZ3zd4E7Ikn8Lyw%3d%3d=pwRE6AGJFLDNlh225F5QMaQWCtPHwdhUfCZ%2fLUQzgA2uL5jNRG4jdQ%3d%3d&mCTIbCubSFfXsDGW9IXnlg%3d%3d=hFflUdN3100%3d&kCx1AnS9%2fpWZQ40DXFvdEw%3d%3d=hFflUdN3100%3d&uJovDxwdjMPoYv%2bAJvYtyA%3d%3d=ctNJFf55vVA%3d&FgPlIEJYlotS%2bYGoBi5olA%3d%3d=NHdURQburHA%3d&d9Qjj0ag1Pd993jsyOJqFvmyB7X0CSQK=ctNJFf55vVA%3d&WGewmoAfeNR9xqBux0r1Q8Za60lavYmz=ctNJFf55vVA%3d&WGewmoAfeNQ16B2MHuCpMRKZMwaG1PaO=ctNJFf55vVA%3d

 

It sets out the proposals from our first Outcome Based Budget, where every aspect of Council spend is viewed in terms of the outcomes that it delivers for residents.  We are striving to get the best overall set of services, delivering good outcomes for residents with the level of resources that we have.  A lot of the changes will be transformational, particularly where we have identified opportunities to pool resources with other agencies like the health service to remove duplication and coordinate care - getting best use of 'the Warrington pound'.  We are also looking for example at investing in home adaptations that will keep people in their own homes for longer, or which reduce the care support required (e.g. provide a hoist that needs 1 care worker rather than 2).  This is all around reducing demand for services and avoiding future cost, rather than simply cutting services as they stand.  We have also committed to a Waste Strategy review - essentially delivering future savings by having a clean sheet of paper, looking at all aspects of waste and designing a service that meets the needs of Warrington, e.g. kerbside collections, recycling, CRCs, local recycling points, energy from waste etc.

 

Rather than go into lots of detail here, I am always happy to explain things if you look at the Budget and have any questions or comments.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

grey_man:  I am not sure who said that there is a reduced workload - if there is, I certainly haven't noticed it!  Councillors remain representatives of their communities and are routinely involved in helping residents with issues that are outside of the Council's remit or direct control, whether it is universal credit, benefits, bedroom tax, housing or transport, as well as all of the stuff that the Council does deliver itself or commissions from other partners/organisations. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unless, we're prepared to have referendums on all political decisions, like the Swiss; we have an historically based representative democracy; in which the majority consign decision making to an elected minority, based on their declared manifestos. The only reason for this Gov requirement, is to effectively cap LA funding, thus forcing cuts on services. The Tories are pursuing their dogma of creating "small Government" under the guise of austerity based public expenditure cuts; which will deliver tax cuts to the richest.  The money is available within the population, it merely requires a redistributive tax system to actually operate effectively to do it.  Alas, that would mean the broadest shoulders bearing the greatest weight, in keeping with Osbourne's declaration that "we're all in it together". !

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Obs... you keep banging on about redistributive tax systems, but unfortunately communism is dead and buried. I understand the need to gain more income from those with the most in society, however if it is always dressed up with a proviso of "They shouldn't be allowed to have more than me" it just smacks of envy and jealousy

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Cllr Bowden....

 

Personally I have nothing but high praise for the girls and lads who go out at all hours and in all weathers to look after the elderly in their own homes..... the problem lies in what the companies these people work for actually pay them. The council and its various unions as well as Red Ed are always telling us that employers should pay the living wage rather than just the minimum wage..... unfortunately the people who work for these agencies employed by the council are paid what amounts to less than the minimum wage in many cases.... they have to provide and fuel their own transport for a start as well as not being paid in some cases for the travel between clients.

 

My own mother had to use the services of one such private agency in the last 4 years of her life with visits and numbers of carers increasing as time went on... The employees are absolute stars. Unlike the council employees who were ever so keen to turf my mum out of her own house so that it could be sold to pay the £700 a week that the council charge for residential elderly care.... The impression I got was that they were very happy to get someone into the homes that they could actually charge for care as the majority were elderly people with no such assets!

 

But of course when it comes to practising what it preaches and loyalty and keeping things local, the council does talk a good game, but in reality is quite prepared to forgo long term relationships with local suppliers and employers in favour of finding a new out of town (and vastly more expensive) suppliers....  but I'm sure you won't know anything about that sort of behaviour because I'm sure it doesn't happen does it?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Unfortunately Baz, it's never really been tried (except perhaps in the amazon jungle !);  as whoever gains control of power tends to form a new elite and corner the market on wealth and privilege (EG China). The majority are left argueing over the crumbs, hence this debate on Council tax. Far from envy; to me it's merely a pragmatic response to an economic issue; Governments can either spend less, borrow more or redistribute wealth through taxation. The Tories opt for the first option, Labour the second; while none appear to seriously opt for the last option. More people with more money to spend, generates demand, which in turn generates employment; which keeps the merry go round, going round. However, the inevitable law of fiscal gravity means that all this money eventually finds it's way into fewer and fewer hands; and therefore requires a counter-weight to ensure re-circulation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

but then you get into the argument over why should someone bother to borrow money, put their house and lives on the line to set up a business to employ people, to earn profits (paying tax and VAT - as unpaid tax collectors) to then take a good cut themselves from their risks and hard work; only to have you come along and take it off them to give to someone who doesn't have as much ambition and drive as the guy who started the business does....

 

It's the politics of envy; nothing more. The leftys all see a business owner employing a few local people and struggling to pay wages and tax etc. in the same way they see the bank bosses and the boss of BT.... most union leaders probably earn more than 99% of business owners in this country :)

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
grey_man:  I am not sure who said that there is a reduced workload - if there is, I certainly haven't noticed it!  Councillors remain representatives of their communities and are routinely involved in helping residents with issues that are outside of the Council's remit or direct control, whether it is universal credit, benefits, bedroom tax, housing or transport, as well as all of the stuff that the Council does deliver itself or commissions from other partners/organisations. 

 

I agree that sometimes you represent your communities, unless that entails going against the interests of your party. That is the pattern at both local and national level with politicians, unfortunately.  

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

×