Happy xmas from Eric Pickles!
Happy Xmas from Eric Pickles !
If press reports are true, it seems that Eric Pickles and the Coalition are hoping to outlaw council tax rises for next year.
According to the local government press today, DCLG officials are frantically trying to draw up emergency legislation to prevent councils raising council tax next year. The “stick” would be the threat of Government withdrawing revenue support grant to a council that tried to do so. This follows indications that almost a half of councils planned to ignore Eric Pickles’ “incentive” to freeze the tax next year.
So, all the fine words about allowing local people to decide through referenda have gone out of the window, all the financial incentives to persuade councils to freeze council tax are revealed as bribes, and Government is resorting to the sledgehammer of legislation to force councils to do what the Government wants.
Oh, and it will probably have a further effect of destabilising and undermining councils by delaying councils’ financial settlement (due next week) until after Xmas, making it that much harder for every council to plan its budget for next year.
Of course, this may not happen. But it is clear that officials have been working on the idea – that tells you all you need to know about this Government.
The most centralist Government for a long time
My Dad always told me to judge people on what they did – not on what they said. Strip away the phoney rhetoric of “localism” and this Government is revealed in practice as centralist to the core in its dealings with locally elected councils.
If councils are only allowed to raise money when and if Government allows it, if councils can only do things that Government approves of, then there is scarcely any point in the existence of elected local coucnillors. We might as well get rid of them and let local officers implement central government dictats.
When will the LGA and all the non-Coalition political parties launch the campaign that is so clearly needed: to save local government before it finally withers on the vine?
Meanwhile, a genuine Happy Xmas and New Year from me to all my blog readers, friends and colleagues !