It’s that time of year when we await the unwelcome arrival of our Council tax bills – as if we haven’t already got enough bad news, what with the effects of a world-wide economic recession, failing banks and lost jobs. In Luton , we can expect our bills to be almost 4% higher than last year.
So while we wait for those envelopes from Luton Town Hall , let us remember three simple facts. First, the Labour Party came to power in the 2007 local elections on a promise that they would keep any increase in Council tax at or below the national average. Second, they have failed, for the second year running, to stick to this promise – this year, according to the Local Government Association, the average local authority tax rise will be 3%. Third, the current inflation rate is far below our Council tax increase – and according to some statistics is just 0.1%.
But as Councillor Robin Harris, Labour’s finance supremo, tells us, he’d “love to have kept the tax level lower, but we have to set a robust budget and raise the money to pay for necessary services”. Presumably, this includes such necessary services as an obscene 87% increase in allowances for his boss, the Leader of the Council, and increases of nearly 50% for himself and his Labour Executive colleagues?
Isn’t it time that Luton’s Labour Council started to carry out the promises they made before they were voted into power in 2007? And isn’t it time that we, the Council tax payers, deserved a better and fairer system of paying for our local services than through constant tax rises well above the rate of inflation?