The hidden £50 election bribe that you are paying for?
All of us should now have received our council tax bills and no doubt many of us will be pleased that the County Council has effectively frozen its tax.
For some time now central government has been ‘incentivising’ councils to keep the council tax down by giving them a special grant if they promise to freeze their tax bills.
In 2012/13 the county council used £13m of such grants to keep the council tax down. The ‘incentive’ from the government for this year, 2013/14, was a miserly £2m so the £11m gap had to be plugged somehow, one would assume by cuts or alternatively put the council tax up by around five per cent, or £50 per household.
But no. Our ever inventive Conservative controlled council came up with a wheeze called the ‘financial stability reserve’, plugged the £11m hole with it and hey presto no extra cuts, no five per cent increase in council tax and a council tax freeze.
Anybody would think that a county council election was in the offing.
These reserves will run out sooner or later and the council tax will have to be increased or more cuts implemented down the line.
What appears to be a crude manipulation of the budget to fit in with an election cycle presumably with the intention of improving the Conservatives chances of being re-elected is exactly the sort of thing that brings party politics and their career politicians into disrepute.
No doubt its intent is also to help them avoid telling us what they will have to cut until after the elections.
To add insult to injury the £11m they are giving us back to freeze the council tax was of course raised from us in the first place.
Isn’t that just politicians cynically spending our money to make themselves look good?