George Osborne’s Budget sop to the public, of freezing Council Tax for a year, is politics at its very worse. It takes the public for fools, in the hope that we’ll be so taken by saving £100 a year we’ll not notice the ideological cuts happening elsewhere.
Beyond the dodgy politics, the Council Tax freeze has a number of serious implications, represented by these questions:
- What happens when the Council Tax freeze thaws out?
- What does central government telling local government it has to freeze Council Tax mean for for localism?
- Despite the gearing effect (Council Tax roughly makes up for only 1/4 of local government budgets), what impact will the freeze on Council Tax have on services provided by local government?
- If central government is going to make up the shortfall, what other central government funding will stop to pay for it? “Efficiencies”? “Back-office costs”? “Consultants”?
Osborne has form in headline-grabbing tax announcements, as per his inheritance tax announcement three years back. The difference this time is that the nonsense he’s announcing will actually be put into effect.
What a frightening, frightening thought.