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Thursday, 26 February 2015

Brent Council Tax Rise

Returning to the suggestion of a Brent Council Tax rise that has caused so much controversy.  I have summarised the arguments in favour here.  It is not hard to think of ways to spend the extra money.  In the past I have suggested expanding the local welfare provision.  I reckon a lot of people would support a modest Council Tax increase on that basis, but of course it is easy enough to think of other deserving objectives.

The main counter argument is that a Council Tax rise, even a slight one, raises living costs at a time when many people are under strain.  This is true, but it does not appear to have been widely noticed that Brent has already done this with changes to Council Tax Support, and specifically targeted a rise at those least able to pay. 

I reported on this at the time.  The changes put in place then affected people who had previously paid nothing because of their poverty.  In Brent that is about 21,000 people.  The standard rate was set at about 20% of the full charge.  Still a hefty discount, this was nonetheless a big rise from the zero level.  For instance, someone in a band D property would go from paying zero to almost £300/year. 

I asked a senior member of the Council Executive why that was the right choice for the poorest people, but he still felt the rate for everyone else had to be frozen. 

He couldn't think of an answer.

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