Aileen Colleran’s Blog

Partick, Politics and Passions

Money’s too tight to mention

No-one likes to pay taxes, that’s a given. I also don’t enjoy paying my factor’s bill, but then I don’t have to clean my stairs or cut the grass in my backcourt. Somewhere along the line (I blame Thatcher and the Tory years – a wee cliche that has the resounding ring of truth, there is no such thing as society etc..) , local taxes became equated with factoring fees and people started to believe council tax was a personal service charge. One person actually sat in my surgery and argued that she should be exempt from council tax because she bought her own books, didn’t need a home help, had no children and never dropped litter , so she didn’t use libraries, social work, education or cleansing services. The fact that 80% of council services are funded by central government and council tax is a local top-up tax to enable local government some flexibility to set budgets and decide priorities (its called local democracy) has become lost in the miasma of ring fencing, targets, micro managing and political posturing around local government finance that only intensified post devolution. Leaving the arguments about local income tax for another day (centralising agenda kiss local accountability goodbye if collected nationally and redistributed at the grace and favour of Holyrood) , let’s look at where we are now. Glasgow has been behind the 8 ball for years – local government re-organisation left the city with budgets for education and social work not matching the levels of need after the dismantling of Strathclyde Region and a low council tax base. After years of effort and tough decisions it was finally possible to freeze council tax for two years in a row and go some way to reducing the burden on the minority in the city who actually pay full council tax without discount. So it wasn’t surprising that a council tax freeze was the number one priority for an incoming SNP government, as we’d already shown it could be done. Today’s headline in the Scotsman is a bit overblown  “Boost for SNP move to freeze council tax” http://news.scotsman.com/politics.cfm?id=1700652007 , as it’s very clear that we will recognise any financial sleight of hand, giving with one hand and taking away with another. But any council that can’t make their sums add up if offered appropriate additional funding has to be a bit of a basket case…

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October 25, 2007 - Posted by | Council tax, SNP

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