A blog by Luke Akehurst about politics, elections, and the Labour Party - With subtitles for the Hard of Left. Just for the record: all the views expressed here are entirely personal and do not necessarily represent the positions of any organisations I am a member of.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Why haven't the Tories cut Council Tax already?

I was interested to see George Osborne's plans for reducing the increase in Council Tax in his speech today.

I'm a councillor on a Labour authority (Hackney) that has frozen (i.e. not increased at all) its component of the local Band D Council Tax for three years in a row, and gone six years without cutting front-line services, by cutting waste and finding back-office efficiency savings.

The Conservatives control nearly five times more councils than Labour. They are already setting the Council Tax in much of England. Tory councillors didn't need to wait for a George Osborne chancellorship to hold down Council Tax increases. They are in power in vast numbers of town halls and county halls and could have already done it if they wanted to. Maybe it hasn't been a big priority for them?


Anonymous The Voice of Reason said...

Tories and their councils always talk big when it comes to tax cuts but fail to mention the fall out their policies have.

Tory councils in London may boast relatively low rates of council tax but they also slash vital public services.

I'd wager Luke would feel far more comfortable looking one of his constituents in the eye and saying that his council delivers a good level of public service compared to a Tory counterpart.

3:31 pm, September 29, 2008

Blogger Hughes Views said...

We need to get much better at exposing Tory failings in local government. Labour is, as you point out, in opposition in most authorities but we're generally hopeless at exploiting this unhappy position.

The Tories shamelessly complain about our actions in government regardless of whether they would have to do precisely the same if they were in power but we seem reluctant to play the same, slightly dirty (but this is grown-up politics) trick in local government.

The Lib Dems (bless them) do it in both local and national government. They're good at being in opposition because they’ve had so much practice. We shouldn't be completely afraid to learn from their techniques whilst still striving to remain much nicer than they are. We should remember that many of those strange people who don’t have politics as their hobby mistakenly believe that they’re nicer than we are...

3:34 pm, September 29, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice? Can't say it's my first or last impression when reading Luke's bile filled rantings.

4:15 pm, September 29, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

Often the problem is that almost by default, you get Labour councils during Tory years,and Tory councils during Labour years.

This means that the council has no incentive to make the government of the day appear anything other than to blame for any increase

As for the LibDems, it depends where one lives as to the brand of politics they pursue.

5:04 pm, September 29, 2008

Blogger Steve Horgan said...

Statistically, Conservative Councils already deliver lower Council taxes. George Osborne's proposals allow Councils that work to deliver a low increase to deliver a zero increase, which benefits everyone, especially those on fixed incomes. As a local Councillor who claims to be committed to low taxation this helps you and your residents. Why are you complaining?

5:14 pm, September 29, 2008

Anonymous sodze said...

As a former Conservative Councillor during the dark years in Hackney, I distinctly recall it was a Conservative, namely then Councillor Eric Ollerenshaw OBE who was greatly responsible for dragging us out of the mess and chaos, caused by Labour Councillors.
Whilst the Council has come on a great deal, it not only is still far from perfect, it is, contrary to your spin, in fact still one of the worst performing in the country.
That all said, the reason why Hackney should be cutting Council Tax like Tory Councils such as H&F, is because the grant settlement as you well know is set by your government to favour Labour Councils. A typical Conservative Council receives £100’s less per head op population then their Labour compatriot; of which Hackney gets one of the largest grant settlements.
So I look forward to Hackney Labour Council cutting the Council Tax this coming year in absolute terms, before the Conservatives are charged by the electorate in 2010 to clear up Labour’s mess, once again.
Happy New Year

6:39 pm, September 29, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

SATURDAY 11 OCTOBER from 5pm (book event/talk) “What’s Happening?? The Truth About Work…& the Myth of ‘Work-Life Balance’.”

Sheila Cohen leads off a discussion on her recent pamphlet, which examines the largely hidden topic of work today and its increasing intensification and “extensification”…towards ever-longer working hours. New Labour’s rhetorical embrace of “work-life balance” suggests a utopia of ever-increasing leisure – but the opposite is happening.

The reality of life at work is tough, but exposing the myths doesn’t have to be. “What’s Happening??” contains lively and jargon-free accounts by workplace union activists of what’s really going on – and what they, and we, can do about it. Come along and join the debate!

Sheila Cohen (NUJ/UCU) is Education and Publications Officer of the National Shop Stewards Network and author of Ramparts of Resistance: Why Workers Lost Their Power, and How to Get It Back.

Housman's is at 5 Caledonian Road, London N1, very close to King's Cross station

7:16 pm, September 29, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

We need to cut local authorities anyway so I would love to see massive cuts. They are far too big and have far too many powers.

As far as I'm concerned the only services I care about are social services, the police and litter....the rest can go.

Education can be funded directly, so can the police and I see no reason why care can't be run by NHS trusts.

8:13 pm, September 29, 2008

Anonymous David Floyd said...

Nice to see the Tories continuing their strong commitment to releasing local government from the meddling influence of Whitehall.

9:05 pm, September 29, 2008

Blogger Paul said...

I don't know how it works in London but in the shires council tax also covers the police authorities. Is Osborne proposing to cap their expenditure too, does he know how council tax is calculated?

The tories have served notice on education and social services and other council services the cuts are coming

9:18 pm, September 29, 2008

Blogger Merseymike said...

Very out of date figures with regard to how much councils receive per head of population. On the whole it is geography, not party control, which determines this - and London does indeed do very well, compared to the north

Its a fact that Tories are less likely to control councils where there are moor poor people and more likely to control wealthy boroughs. Thus, one would expect Labour councils to receive more central support

9:56 pm, September 29, 2008

Anonymous Ted Harvey said...

It seems as though the Conservatives are as incapable of Westminster Labour of learning from what happens in Scotland. The Conservatives two-year Council Tax freeze is a straight steal of the SNP populist (and popular)policy instituted some time ago.

Unfortunately for the Conservatives, this is also just at the point in Scotland that the constraining effects of the freeze on public services delivered by local authorities are becoming apparent.

For example, I have heard from the supplier of an excellent primary classroom product that is by bought up at a steady rate by schools in England and Wales – in contrast, the invariable reaction his sales staff are getting in Scotland is; “That’s a great little utility. But because my school budget has been restricted as part of the local authority ‘savings’ to keep to the Council Tax freeze, we have no money to buy it now or in the immediate future”.

12:44 pm, September 30, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could it be that they don't get sufficient funding from central government?

I think the real question that needs to be asked is how they spend the money they do have.

12:44 pm, September 30, 2008

Anonymous Arthur said...

The Tories do not have a clue how to run the country.

1:12 pm, September 30, 2008

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Local government minister, John Healey has this afternoon poured scorn on Osborne's latest wheeze:


In short, no need for heavy hand of the centre - the majority of local councils are ahead of the curve on making savings, and a fair number could teach Whitehall a thing or two.

3:59 pm, September 30, 2008

Blogger Democratic-Centre said...

@Hughes Views

I agree some of the stuff written on blogs about Labour has been fierce and is wrapped up in harmful gossip subtly sold as a substitute for real political attacks. The Tories have been shown to be short on substance and long on mockingly good jokes and soundbites. I agree with the other poster about the levers of centralisation, which they mocked Brown over, so much for 'localism' under the Tories.

New Labour should take pride in its fluid centrism, able to move left and to the right, unlike tories who appear unconvincing whenever pressed on interventionist issues.

They have been incompetently u-turning this week, but Brown too needs to get it together and get the balance right and reconcile the Cabinet under delegated leadership.

I would, at party political level, not governmental level, persuade Miliband to go on the attack against Cameron. Not because Brown isn't suitable but moreso under the auspices that there is only one heir to Blair.

Even the best of Blair wasn't good enough, why should the country then re-elect a Blair MkIII.

Labour needs to reconnect with its roots of course but also maintain the fluid centrism to keep up power in England. Delegated leadership is key because Brown certainly alone cant provide the broad attack needed to strive even for a hung parliament, arguably neither can Miliband and Co.

4:39 pm, September 30, 2008

Anonymous Rich said...

Having watched very little of any of the conferences...tory or labour I do think these events are for loyalists rather than the undecided voter.

I reallly think people are so fed up with politics at the moment and just want a party that actually listens and delivers on promises.

The difference between the conservatives and labour is so slim at the moment. The only reason why Brown will lose the election is because everyone is sick of this government. They will vote conservative purely to remove Labour regardless of whether the policies are any different.

The conservatives may well freeze council tax but under the current climate no political party will be able to offer tax cuts. I do however, feel that too much of our money is being wasted on non jobs and red tape. Government must slim down and concentrate on providing good service. The obsession with KPIs and measuring everything in the public sector has to end as it is costing too much money and damaging productivity. The basics of providing service must worked around the customer and not around management structures. The principle of providing service is very simple and requires skilled front end staff and money and that's about it. I've seen the waste in the NHS and most of it is the result of greedy managers and executives who seem to think the tax payer should provide them with a brand new BMW every year. Go down to the front end and all the staff are being measured, pushed and forced to fill out miles of paperwork.

10:10 pm, September 30, 2008

Blogger Mark Still News said...

Parliamentarian members more than likely are all together in a Freemasonry organisation, with the exception of J Corbyn, J McDonnell & Socialist MP's and George Galloway?

10:40 pm, October 02, 2008


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