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Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Brent Council Tax Rise Likely

I hear that Brent Council is likely to go for a Council Tax rise this year.  This has seemed to me to be the only sensible course for some time.  The rise will still only make a modest contribution to protecting Council services but it is better than nothing. 

It also helps to protect the longer term finances of the Council.  Each year the Council Tax has been frozen, the base revenue of the Council has been reduced not just in this year but for future years.  With the government talking about abolishing central government grant altogether, a continued freeze would simply run the Council into the ground.

One might ask why Cllr Butt has been so bitterly opposed to a rise for so long.  Even to the extent of ignoring the vote of the Labour Group altogether, which was such an undemocratic measure that I am sure no previous Labour Group would have stood it.  I wonder whether it will come back to bite him in May.

Certainly, his reasons can not have been to protect vulnerable residents, since he was fully behind the Council Tax Support Scheme which inevitably hits those least able to pay.  Indeed the rise for those residents in the first year was so large it would have been impossible to raise the Council Tax by that much across the tax base as a whole. 

Looking at future rises, it would be interesting to see a graph of what level the Council Tax would be is it had increased at the rate of inflation since the last Council Tax rise in Paul Lorber's last budget back in 2010.  That might give some sort of benchmark as to what is reasonable to charge people.  This is necessary as there is always a suspicion among the public that politicians simply want to ram up taxes and charges as much as possible.  Certainly as far as the Council Tax goes, this has not been true, but recent decisions on parking charges in CPZs in Brent probably haven't helped the perception.  Indeed I find that people generally think the Council Tax has been rising even though it has been frozen.  The Council really needs to reassure the public that rises are considered and value for money.

1 comment:

  1. I was made aware of this blog through a link from the excellent "Wembley Matters" blog site.

    I agree that it is poor leadership from Cllr. Butt to have allowed Brent's Council Tax base to have been eroded over recent years, so that he (for party political purposes) could claim "credit" for freezing Council Tax. Brent's annual income from Council Tax would have been millions of pounds more now, and the need for cuts millions of pounds a year less, if the Council had made the modest rises allowed by central government.

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