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South Shields premier political blog

A plea for fairer Council Taxes

with 4 comments

Coalition needs to take action

Yes, I know the World Cup is on and most minds are on England’s underwhelming performance against the USA, not to mention Robert Green’s howler, and last night in South Shields Snooker Centre was probably noisier than any bar in Rustenburg, but here is something else to exercise our minds with as local Labour councillors in South Tyneside have already started moaning and whinnying about the government’s tightening of the financial belt, despite the fact that Alistair Darling, the former Labour Chancellor, had heralded “spending cuts more severe than the Thatcher years” had Labour won.

So please take the time to read this guest post from Christine Melsome, writing on behalf of Is it Fair who campaign for the reform of Council Tax.

Council Tax must be made fairer.

“Those in areas of high property values have no choice but to pay perhaps half as much again or maybe even double that paid in cheaper areas merely to get a roof over their heads. I say again, they have no choice if they want to stay in the area in which they work and where their families and friends live. They commit a far greater proportion of their income to servicing hefty mortgages. When the property is finally theirs, of course it is a valuable asset, but they have paid dearly for it. We have to remember that it is only an asset when sold – until then the value means little, one has to live somewhere. Why are they punished, then, by absurdly high council tax, both throughout their mortgage years and afterwards, totally out of proportion to that paid by those in similar properties elsewhere?

In his speech to the House of Commons on 21 March 1991 prior to the introduction of Council Tax in April 1993, Michael Heseltine said, “…the system should ensure that regional variations in property values do not lead to disproportionate bills in high price areas.” Something has plainly gone badly wrong. What is the new government going to do to put this matter right?

Perhaps the place to start would be Formula Grant?

The grant system is due for a make-over. A manipulative Government has used this as a tool to tighten the screw on councils not flying their flag. Many areas of the country have been starved of funding while others are awash with cash. The system must be made fairer, and the sooner the better.

There is little to indicate that incomes, especially for pensioners, vary much across the country. Here is one example (and there are many). It may surprise you to know that the median income for Sunderland and for Eastbourne is about the same, but the average council tax per dwelling in Eastbourne is hundreds of pounds more.”

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Written by curly

June 13, 2010 at 4:12 pm

4 Responses

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  1. I don’t know about median income but Eastbourne and Sunderland are entirely different places. Eastbourne is a pleasant seaside resort the choice of retirement for many people ‘down south.’ My mother alog with many other Shields lasses was forced to move there during the hungry thirties to seek work. No hunger marches there. Nor does it have a legacy of destroyed industry ( shipbuilding, mining) like Sunderland or large scale social housing and unemployment.
    As for councillors ‘moaning and whinnying’ about the prospect of cuts it will be the people of South Tyneside who will bear the brunt. Every proposed closure of a care home, day centre, community centre, advice service or support group currently provoles outrage from the public who use such services. It is going to take more than scrapping a council magazine or cutting back on refreshments to stave of the cuts in prospect. To use a good old Geordie expression ‘we will know what Cuddy’s kicked us’ when your beloved Tories get going.
    Hope you won’t be the one ‘moaning and whinnying’ when it affects your family.


    June 14, 2010 at 2:37 pm

    • I notice that you are still in denial about the parlous state of the economy left by the departing Labour government as outlined today by the Independent Office for Budget Responsibility, and that you too are totally disregarding the advice dispensed by former Chancellor Alistair Darling. Who would you be blaming if Labour had been returned to power and was enacting the very cuts that Darling heralded as necessary?

      Labour supporters can gain little credit at all by blaming the new government for cuts in public spending that would have been applied by a Labour Chancellor. Local councils have known for some time that economic restrictions would be necessary and that they would have been required to reassess their own spending priorities regardless of the government in power at Westminster. I hope, as a council tax payer, that South Tyneside Council is going to act responsibly and spend wisely providing value for money services without the necessity for further increases in council tax and without blaming central government for any shortfalls in revenue!

      Reverting to type and blaming “the other side” is no substitute for fiscal responsibility.


      June 14, 2010 at 6:13 pm

  2. Like I said I hope you and Mrs Curly won’t be moaning and whinnying when your Child Benefit is cut or services you value disappear.
    You can be sure the ‘sharing of the pain’ won’t include those at the top.


    June 14, 2010 at 7:21 pm

    • With reductions in Child Tax Credits and Child Benefit being aimed at those families earning around £35000 – £40000 per annum and upwards, I think we can safely assume that the majority of families around South Shields won’t be badly affected.


      June 14, 2010 at 10:07 pm

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