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Autumn statement

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PostPosted: Fri Dec 04, 2015 9:21 pm    Post subject:
Autumn statement
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ollowing the Autumn Statement by the Chancellor of the Exchequer on 25 Nov 2015 we ask

Is it fair that only council taxpayers have to pay for the cost of failure on social care funding, and can they afford to?

This week we saw a disappointing return to the bad old days of council tax rises caused by central government policy. George Osborne has decided that council tax payers only must bear the additional cost of social care funding. Local authorities responsible for adult social care will be allowed to increase council tax by 2% above existing limits (in addition to the 1.9% increase that can currently be imposed). By adding in the maximum new levies allowable without a referendum, the LGA estimated that Band D bills could cost an average of just under £200 more over the next five years.
The provision of social care should be a local decision and the funding should be from general taxation passed on to local authorities via the grant system. The ability for local authorities to make this provision has been severely restricted and cut back in recent years due to this government’s economic austerity measures.

How often have we heard this Chancellor say that everyone should pay their fair share of tax? Is it fair that only council tax payers should pay for the additional costs of social care, when this is a public service available to all (subject to qualify criteria)? A tax rise for some but not others is not fair at all in this circumstance. Did he even consider if council tax payers can afford this additional financial burden?

The answer to that last question is not known but might be something along the lines of ‘so what, that’s not our problem’. We will hear the usual arrogant mantra that is peddled by central government that it is a local decision to impose the 2% increase and nothing to do with us. This is gross irresponsibility and shows complete contempt towards the council tax payer.

This course of action does set a dangerous precedent though. What is to stop the Chancellor and his successors from doing this again for another reason? This exposes a fundamental built in unfairness in this council tax system.
How will we know that this additional government initiated increase has been spent wholly and exclusively on the provision of social care? Will councils be able to demonstrate and prove that this has been the case? Some commentators are concerned that this additional money could be used for other purposes. Council tax payers surely have the right to see proof of expenditure.

It was only up to last week that hard working families were threatened with the loss of child tax credits totalling £4bn. Due to the House of Lords rejecting this and overwhelming public disapproval this was abandoned. Yet now, all of a sudden, we have billions to spend on yet another potential and contentious war, and don’t forget that we are so wealthy that we can give away a guaranteed £12bn under the Official Development Assistance programme (Overseas Aid budget). Yet, we don’t want to spend enough money to provide good social care. This shows a total lack of compassion to the most vulnerable and needy in our society and is a complete dereliction of duty (government itself has the responsibility to fund the care of the elderly and other vulnerable adults). It is a national disgrace.
What you can do
To express your thoughts and feelings about this matter, you can:
• Contact the Prime Minister
• Contact George Osborne
• Contact your MP
• Write a letter to your local and/or national newspaper

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