Reduction in Council Tax, please
Pretty but not practical
Snow 5th January 2010
Every householder in the UK pays Council Tax. This tax and its predecessors pay for local services and councils.
Before Mrs Thatcher came to power, and decided to play Robin Hood, householders paid rates on their home. This was based on the value of their home and so inevitably the rich paid higher rates than the poor.
Thatcher's Government looked at ways to redress the balance. Of course they did not look at evening this tax out but tilting it in favour of wealthier people. This meant that a wealthy woman, for example, living in a palatial mansion paid the same poll tax as poorer individual living on a sink estate.
This poll tax or as it was also known communitycharge was hugely unpopular. On the whole we British are armchair revolutionaries but the Poll Tax saw demonstrations across the country and some citizens choosing jail instead of payment of this tax.It is probably true to say that the Poll tax helped hammer home, one of the nail's in Thatcher's political coffin.
This tax was replaced by the Council Tax which initially seemed a little fairer.
The problem is that there are still inequalities but on the whole, to my, mind it is the fairest of the three taxes detailed here.
The creation of this hub is down to the recent snowfalls in the UK.
With many councils struggling to make ends meet snow clearing seems to have vanished from its list of duties.
Of course, most councils will be at pains to point out that the major roads have been kept open. However, I thought that current political thinking was to try and encourage populations to steer well clear of driving everywhere?
As the pavements have been left in a treacherous state, up and down the country, many motorists have only ventured out to shopping centres and the like. This means that small businesses which are already struggling have seen a dip in trade. With few places to park in the middle of small shopping areas, motorists avoid these shops like the plague.
The streets have less people around and so they are more dangerous, in so many ways. If you are out walking on the snow and ice, and meet a mugger god help you.
However, there has of course, been an increase in weather related accidents. The Accident and Emergency department's of hospitals have been overflowing with patients who have potential fractures and the like.
I know you are wondering where I am leading you, but stick with it.
Currently the UK is a little like, for the want of a shoe the horse was lost. However, currently it is more like, for the want of some grit a city was lost.
The paths at the edge of the road, where I live, suffered serious damage when the area was flooded in the Summer of 2007. As none of these paths have been repaired ,the snow and ice have compounded the problem. With so many residents opting to block pave their front gardens, to accommodate their beloved cars, there is now also a slight slope in front of each of these houses. So you have to contend with snow, ice, broken paths and uneven surfaces. Just perfect if you are elderly, visually impaired or have mobility issues.
All of this mayhem has been caused by many council's failure to clear the snow. Gritting seems to be a thing of the past, and snow shovellers, well you must be joking.
Back to the Council Tax
Each year, since the Council Tax became law, this tax has increased. At one time, when the Conservatives were in power, Labour councils were penalised. The contribution made by the Government is levied each year and the Tories always hit Labour strongholds. With Labour in power, the reverse is happening.
All of this means its a bit hit and miss what you pay.
Suffice to say though that you will pay more each year. There is a single person reduction, other such reductions and a means tested benefit, for those eligible, but most householders will be paying through the nose.
If your Council Tax for last year was a £1,000 last year and this year it rises by 5% you will pay £1,050. This may not sound a large increase but consider a few facts:
- The Council Tax was introduced in 1993
- It has increased each year.
- The tax was originally set for each household on a vague value of your home.
- This means that there are banding's, which start with A banded homes paying the least.
- As house values plummeted Governments shied away from revaluing.
- Revaluing is due to take place in the next few years and some councils are hoping for a 30% increase in council tax.
Of course, they have you by the proverbial short and curlies. None payment of Council Tax attracts a jail term, with the debt still due after sentence has been served.
With a general election a certainty for 2010 the situation could worsen, depending who wins.
Many councils are in dire straits, having made bad investments, in the past. Some are already cutting staff and services but yet, there is nothing so certain as the fact that council tax biils across the country, will be more expensive in 2010 and thereafter.
So, I think that we should have a reduction in our Counci Tax bills. To hell with an increase.
The fact that the paths have been left in such a dangerous condition this winter, which has led to all of the above problems, listed above, surely means that the councils have not fulfilled their duty?
I wait with bated breath.
Council Tax bills for 2010 will be received around March and require at least a first payment in April.
In The Bleak Mid Winter, not so long ago.
In the grit-less winter
Councils began to moan
They had little money,
Snow clearing couldn't be done.
Snow had fallen
Snow on ice
Snow and ice and snow
In our current winter
Not so long ago.
Up and down the country
Broken legs and arms
Pavements cracked and damaged
Will cause us yet more harm.
All too soon our taxes
Will be raised and set
Demands for lots of money
Which may put you into debt.
This leaves a puzzling question
For those that have to pay
Just what are we paying for
and how the Hell will we pay.