Freezing taxes in Hackney


by Don Paskini    
9:16 pm - January 21st 2009

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Luke Akehurst reports that Hackney Council has decided for the fourth year in a row not to increase their council tax, one of three Labour-controlled London boroughs to do so.

No one likes paying council tax, particularly when times are tough economically, and Hackney is also investing more money in frontline services, rather than paying for tax cuts by cutting the services people rely on. But if you were a Hackney councillor, would you vote for a tax freeze? Or are there other options which would do more to promote liberty, freedom and social justice?

According to their tax booklet, Hackney council raised £91.8 million in council tax in 2008/9. So each 1% rise in council tax raises roughly £900,000, while costing a band D household an extra £9.98/year.

Let’s take the example of a 2.5% tax rise. This would give councillors an extra £2.25 million to spend, while increasing tax of just over £2 per month on a band D household, rising to an extra £4/month for people living in the most valuable houses in the borough and falling to a total of £0 extra for the poorest residents who receive council tax benefit.

Now £2.25 million would not solve all of Hackney’s problems or meet all the needs and fill all the gaps in current services, but it is enough to make a real difference:

It could be spent on hiring more social workers to support families and protect the most vulnerable children (I know this is so last month and the mee-ja has moved on to other things, but hey).

It could mean helping people who are keen to work but can’t get a job to find meaningful work, with all the benefits for themselves, their families and the local economy that brings with it. Or good quality, affordable childcare so that parents can afford to go and work rather than having to pay more in childcare costs than they get in wages.

It could mean a massive expansion in activities for young people, to make sure that they have enjoyable things to do. And it’s not just they who would benefit. On some estates where councils have funded holiday activities where previously there were none, levels of crime and anti-social behaviour dropped by half or more.

It could mean that more disabled people get the adaptations to their homes so that they could live in dignity, or older people getting the social care that they need.

It could be given to local community groups which help people with debt and housing advice, or who work with the most disadvantaged.

Or, indeed, through participatory budgeting local people could be empowered to decide together how best to spend the money to benefit their community.

I’d have thought that there are decent liberal and leftie arguments that any of those would do more for people in Hackney than freezing the council tax. And the evidence from places as varied as Glenrothes and Oxford suggests that given the choice, people often don’t like it when councils try and keep local taxes down at the expense of services for those who need them most.

The easy answer is that these services should be funded in other ways, and/or council tax should be reformed or abolished. Which is fine, but that’s not an option open to local councillors right now, and I’m particularly interested in where people stand on this specific scenario of freezing taxes versus increasing them and spending the money where it could do the most good to the people who need the services the council provides.

If I were a councillor in Hackney or any of these other boroughs, I’d be in favour of getting those who are better off to pay a bit more council tax to pay for better services for the kids and disabled people who rely on the services which the council providers. What say you?

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Don Paskini is deputy-editor of LC. He also blogs at donpaskini. He is on twitter as @donpaskini
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Reader comments


1. Alisdair Cameron

You forget, Don, that they’ve been told by Brown not to take money off punters for local matters: all the money’s needed for assisting the City…
More seriously local govt finances are a bleeding joke. Intense pressure from the centre not to raise taxes, accompanied by more and more directives that must be met (at great cost as so many of these directives are half-baked). Keep the councils on a short leash, so that they are at the behest of the centre, begging for scraps.
Much talk of empowering local communities, but no release of the centre’s grip upon councils. The sensible solution is for the ecntre to let go, and levy less tax (direct and indirect) and localities to take a bit more and spend it according to local priorites and needs. Pigs might fly, as we look lumbered with the centre taking ever more and more (for generations yet to come, thanks to the size of the current crisis) so localism looks buggered.

There’s absolutely no reason not to increase council tax costs by anything less than the rate of inflation…or perhaps more accurately the local average wage inflation. However saying that there does have to be more say from the community as to where money goes when not on the “most-essential” services. It’s a good political line to spin, and if you’re in an area where there is high unemployment or low wage rises then there’s even a good case for no increases…other than that I don’t really find fault with your argument :)

However it doesn’t solve the wider issue of council tax where wealthy areas can accrue plenty of money to keep themselves policed and running smoothly, while areas with high deprevation or poverty, that actually need the money locally, can’t raise it as easily. That in itself runs contrary to the thinking in my first paragraph, where poorer areas actually need bigger council tax rises…which ultimately is why it’s not really fit for purpose.

Until we have breakdown of the cost of employing every person- salary, pension, duration of holiday, days taken sick, cost of office space, any other form of remuneration and job derscription ; then we do not know as to whether we recieve value for money. We need a very detailed breakdown of council expenditure to know whether we are receiving value for money. It is like the authorities asking for more powers to combat crime and terrorism ; we do not know as to whether they are using the existings laws and resources effectively.

when you buy a car do you need to know the “cost of employing every person- salary, pension, duration of holiday, days taken sick, cost of office space, any other form of remuneration and job derscription” from the car dealer.

Planeshift: So you’re happy to feed to the idea that the council is a product? In which case where are the competitors to drive the best quality service to the consumers on it’s constituent duties?

Or is your analogy rubbish because the council is more like a business to which we are the stakeholders? ;)

Fair play to Hackney Council.
The Council tax as it is in this country is an utter disgrace.
The issue has been quiet for tewlve months now because we’ve had fairly NORMAL increases across the country. But for the best part of 15 years, it was going up by 15% a year on average.

One issue is never debated. The fact that the Council tax in the UK is WAY more expensive than in the rest of the EU. For what basically amounts to the same service. Less in fact.
It’s explained in this article I wrote today, in fact on Hagley Road to Ladywood.

http://mymarilyn.blogspot.com/2009/01/why-is-council-tax-so-unfair.html

Don Paskini,
the issue is that the council tax works like a flat tax. It’s disproportionally a burden on lower/middle incomes. Social justice is not to be implemented with a crap like the Council tax. Hence your question
“I’m particularly interested in where people stand on this specific scenario of freezing taxes versus increasing them and spending the money where it could do the most good to the people”
doesn’t meet my sympathy if you involve the Council tax in it.
It’s regressive, it’s immoral, it’s unfair. Appalingly designed, etc.

Hmm, I never liked the disproportionate argument. The cost of collecting my rubbish is the same as collecting yours, whether I’m on benefits or you’re earning seven figures. Well, maybe not quite but then that’s where banding comes in.

The problem really is that “fixed rate” services have kind of been bundled in with services carried out by the council that generally should be funded proportionally with income. But ten maybe that’s just a problem with how we do taxation regardless.

Lee Griffin,
is it ok, in your opinion that tenants pay council tax on property owned by someone else?
On average, you will agree that owners of more than one property are generally wealthier than people who can’t afford to buy their own home.
Again, this doesn’t happen in France, Spain or Italy,
In the UK, tenants pay the Council tax.
That’s disproportion no.1

Now, onto no.2
The tax is not based on ability to pay. It’s that simple.

No.3
To say that the ‘banding system’ is obsolete is an understatement.
It’s based on 1991, for goodness’ sale. This inept government has been promising a review for years. Still waiting.

No.4
A former factory worker, now OAP, who for instance bought a flat in Islington in 1975 when the property value in the area was very cheap, now pays a tax which is a disproportionate burden to his pension. Islington may be now within a fairly high band which is totally blind to the fact the man won’t have much money to afford it.

No.5
The Council tax benefit system is, put simply, mental.
I cant remember the figures, but the amount of people who would be entitled to benefits and don’t apply is just ridiculous. Especially elederly people.

No.6
How can Britain justify a fortnightly rubbish collection? Why only in Britain?
If you read the article I linked above (comment n.6) you’ll see a few comparative facts.

“is it ok, in your opinion that tenants pay council tax on property owned by someone else?”

If they don’t, aren’t they just going to feel it in their rent? Landlords that can afford it may swallow the cost perhaps, but let’s not pretend all people renting accommodation are drastically more than small business owners (in essence) or even people simply trying to supplement their income. They work out their costs, they work out their maintenance, they work out their tax and then they deliver a rental price. Who the bill goes to makes little difference to my eyes.

“That’s disproportion no.1″

Uh, no, it’s not disproportion it’s just semantics. If it is disproportionate then it’ll be disproportionate for the owners of the properties too as it’s not like they’re all going to reside in the same salary range. I understand your wish to move the tax away from the poorer, but I truly don’t believe that they won’t somewhere along the line of payment be made to pay it one way or another.

“The tax is not based on ability to pay. It’s that simple.”

I repeat, the cost of collecting my rubbish is exactly the same as the cost to take the rubbish of the people next door to me. If I earn ten times the amount that they do, that doesn’t change.

“To say that the ‘banding system’ is obsolete is an understatement.
It’s based on 1991, for goodness’ sale. This inept government has been promising a review for years. Still waiting.”

I actually think a modern banding system based solely on property size could be very useful, especially when it comes to things like energy efficiency and charging. I guess realistically this is more of a call for Land Value Tax or something from my perspective.

“No.4″

Pensioners are a separate issue of problems to my mind, and need a separate solution to the rest of society. Otherwise see above.

“I cant remember the figures, but the amount of people who would be entitled to benefits and don’t apply is just ridiculous. Especially elederly people.”

Well, like all of these taxes, they never did get the idea of “basic allowance” right.

“How can Britain justify a fortnightly rubbish collection? Why only in Britain?
If you read the article I linked above (comment n.6) you’ll see a few comparative facts.”

Why do we need more than a fortnightly collection? Anecdotally I know I don’t, in fact my household could probably just about get away with a monthly collection. For those that do need a more regular collection I can see problems (new kid is pretty much the only example), but then the solutions are that councils provide bespoke services for these types of groups.

I’ve read your article though, and I can’t bring myself to agree or disagree because I don’t know a) what the revenues of those countries tax systems are, b) how they’re distributed and c) what services are actually provided and how.

It’s all well and good saying Spain is great on refuse collection but if they’re terrible on road repairs and local amenities then they’re not necessarily any better. Like I say, not disagreeing or agreeing, but simply comparing different countries refuse collection isn’t really enough to make a realistic argument.

I’m not trying to defend council tax, I think it’s the worst way to get done what local government is trying to do, but it’s also not quite the drastic evil that some are painting. It is, at best and worse, a generally inefficient system that is mostly doing it’s job but, as with income tax itself, is overly complicated with regards to benefits and aiding the poor. There have to be better solutions out there, but complaining (as Don highlights) about 3.5% tax rises is really just a bit pointless.

Well, like I said in the article the services provided by the local councils in the above mentioned countries are almost identical. Social housing, public services subsides, fire cover, local police, street cleaning, parks, elements of social care, elements of education, rubbish collection, museums and activities like festivals and concerts.
Road repair bad in Spain? When, when Franco was alive? Did you last visit in 1983 or something? Surely someone well read as you knows about the enormous improvements with roads and maintenance in Spain in the last 20 years…!?

Then about Landlords and rent. Again. No. I’ve lived in all those countries and, proportionally speaking (obviously Paris is more expensive than Hull, say), rents in the UK were more expensive. And there’s Council tax on top.

“Why do we need more than a fortnightly collection? Anecdotally I know I don’t, in fact my household could probably just about get away with a monthly collect”
Once a month for your rubbish collection? What can I say, you’re better than most, bravo!
And who needs dentist if we all religiously brushed our teeth 3 times a day and quit eating sweets? What sort of argument is yours?

Have a chat with anybody working for your local pest control service (council tax-funded, by the way…) and ask them what they think of that. British cities are having a serious problem with mice and rats the size of my dog. I should know cos I had a mice infestation in the entire block of flats where I live in Brum and the council people (who were very nice and helpful, let it be said), confirmed it’s becoming a real issue all over the country. There was an interesting artcile by Johann Hari a couple of years back, partly explaining the problem with the privatisation of the water and sewage service…but that’s another story.

“I repeat, the cost of collecting my rubbish is exactly the same as the cost to take the rubbish of the people next door to me. If I earn ten times the amount that they do, that doesn’t change.

Is that how your argument goes?
Good god. Well…then if I follow your line of argument, no, because the people next door have 4 kids and a dog. I’m single. They produce way more rubbish then I do…They should pay more.

But Lee, with due respect, and I don’t mean to be harsh. I have a hunch you love arguing the toss a little.

“I repeat, the cost of collecting my rubbish is exactly the same as the cost to take the rubbish of the people next door to me. If I earn ten times the amount that they do, that doesn’t change.”

But then you can say th esame about the NHS, or about schools. Regardless of income, the cost of keeping a public health system or state schools is the same for everyone. So why should a wealthier person pay more in tax?

You’re not one of them ideology-a-go-go life-like-an-economic-theory -book ultra-libertarian people by any chance?

the issue is that the council tax works like a flat tax. It’s disproportionally a burden on lower/middle incomes.”

This is nearly the point.

I support CT because it’s the closest we have to a wealth tax. If you have a massive bloody great house worth a fortune (ok, this is not as relevant in 2008-2012 as it has been at times in the past), but have bugger-all income, and have never been taxed on the appreciation of your house, then it’s hardly unreasonable to expect you to contribute a bit to the Exchequer for your good fortune. IHT and CT are (pathetic and limited) attempts at making this happen.

Yes, it should fall on property owners (and this does make a non-trivial difference – especially when it comes to low-income workers versus students as tenants), and it should be far more homogenous between geographies (perhaps on an English Regions basis, so Chelsea subsidises Hackney but houses in London and South Shields aren’t viewed as equivalent in value).

But Don’s right that a rise in CT is, probably, better for the poor and disadvantaged than a freeze.

Freezing council tax is basically a stupid thing to do. It has a long-term lowering effect on council revenue, because the cap on council tax rises in any given year is expressed as a percentage of the previous year’s level. So you can coast along for a few years, perhaps cutting services as the revenue falls in real terms, more likely supporting services out of reserves, until eventually you hit a point where the council really needs more money to survive. You cannot, however, have a one-off tax hike to bring the council tax levels back up to where they would have been if there had been reasonable, sensible year-on-year increases: instead, you have to gro the revenue by modest percentage increases on a diminished base. This is the kind of trouble that South Cambridgeshire District Council got into a few years back: they ended up having to cut all discretionary spending. This was bad news for South Cambs, and also had a knock-on effect on neighbouring councils with whom they were jointly funding some projects.

Sound financial management would entail a council tax rise that at least meets the unavoidable budget increases due to inflation, pension fund commitments, and so forth, while maintaining an appropriate level of reserve. A council could then look at imposing a savings target across the board, in order to generate a chunk of money with which to fund political priorities. Doing things this way means that the council can deliver some of the extra services mentioned in the article – but, if the savings are not realised in practice, it only means those extra services cannot be funded, it doesn’t put a hole in the council’s budget for existing services.

Whether a slighly higher council tax rise in order to increase funding for priorities is appropriate would be a political judgement that the council should take in consultation with the taxpayers. The council may well decide that such a tax rise is inappropriate. Even so, a financially responsible council would be raising council tax by a few percentage points year on year, just to maintain its ability to meet existing commitments. Freezing council tax is just financially irresponsible. A council which persists with such a strategy is going to run into a brick wall sooner or later – and it’s local residents who will suffer the consequences.

“But then you can say th esame about the NHS, or about schools. Regardless of income, the cost of keeping a public health system or state schools is the same for everyone. So why should a wealthier person pay more in tax?”

As I also said, these funding systems are mixed up with services that are “for the good” rather than “for consumption”. That makes it complicated. Largely I see the council tax as providing consumable services rather than general “good”, and as such I really don’t see why someone should pay more than me for those things. If there is an individual issue with affordability then that’s an issue for benefits or threshold levels.

And no, I wouldn’t really call myself a libertarian, I’d say that I think there are two sets of costs to running things and how much of a proportion each of those costs hold of the total cost varies widely. The cost of basic provision versus the cost of individual consumption needs to be weighed up, for example for waste almost all the cost is the cost of individual consumption, with little in the way of universal costs. Policing is the opposite, though I may never need a police officer I expect there to be police and as such it’s almost all a cost of basic provision.

What we need is to be taxed fairly, and that is to recognise the true cost of our individual consumption through the services the state runs, and tax/charge us appropriately for that, and then to recognise the true cost of our basic provision and tax us proportionately. For instance I don’t mind paying for schools in terms of the provision of education, training of teachers, etc…but year on year resources, why necessarily should I bare the cost of things much more directly related to an individual’s use?

The answer, I guess, would be to do with some of those individuals being unable to afford it, in which case I agree and state that’s why I also pay income tax to subsidise them in their ability to afford to pay. This way I am able to not pay for a share of the individually consumable costs while at the same time paying to subsidise the poor through taxation, I am not in effect also subsidising the rich or able to pay that send their children to state school too.

“Good god. Well…then if I follow your line of argument, no, because the people next door have 4 kids and a dog. I’m single. They produce way more rubbish then I do…They should pay more.”

It’s my understanding they have to fit all of their stuff in to one bin, otherwise they have to pay for additional service. The cost of collecting from each house is the same, as they all have the same amount of bins.

“Surely someone well read as you knows about the enormous improvements with roads and maintenance in Spain in the last 20 years…!?”

Sorry, I wasn’t trying to suggest the roads were bad, I simply picked a random aspect of local governance out of the air. It wasn’t meant to reflect reality.

“Then about Landlords and rent. Again. No. I’ve lived in all those countries and, proportionally speaking (obviously Paris is more expensive than Hull, say), rents in the UK were more expensive. And there’s Council tax on top.”

Proportionally speaking, Paris is less expensive than London. I don’t know the markets, so I don’t know how much of this is down to the British boom in buy to let’s, for example. Without all this sort of background I can’t see why any taxation isn’t passed on by landlords in France. If they are then that is culturally something significant, but not at all what I’d expect to see here. It still doesn’t answer the issue of disproportionately to land lords, though you seem to generally be ok with anyone that appears to be of a certain wage and above to get shafted this way?

“And who needs dentist if we all religiously brushed our teeth 3 times a day and quit eating sweets? What sort of argument is yours?”

Funny you should mention dentists. Subsidised for provision while individually I have to pay for consumption of the service. Would work quite well if not for a shortage of them.

“Have a chat with anybody working for your local pest control service (council tax-funded, by the way…) and ask them what they think of that.”

Should the change have been phased perhaps? Or rather phased better? Probably it should have, but ultimately the problems with pests revolves around misuse of refuse bins more than anything else, it’s a problem with individuals. It’s also a new thing, and people are pissy that they’re inconvenienced, it’ll be more interesting to see people stick with it, actually adapt and then review it after a few more years.

And yes, argument is fun, it makes us better people.

My interactions with landlords suggests that, like many economic actors, they will charge as much as possible while still filling their spaces reasonably quickly. If they paid the council tax, I am pretty sure they would still do this and find that the fact that tenants weren’t paying council tax meant they had a little bit of extra cash available for housing, which they would charge them for. Changing who is levied would only have a brief impact, which would rapidly diminish in favour of higher rents. And rents were high in the South East for a long time as everyone wanted to be here, due to the availability of jobs, relative tolerance and lack of burdensome regulation etc. (obviously not so much of a problem now).

The major difference that charging the landlord council tax would do, would be to remove the incentive to rent out to students (who are exempt from council tax). I am not sure if that would be beneficial or not to the local community, but it certainly wouldn’t help students from poorer backgrounds.

As for tax being used beneficially, well it is the usual question of whether the money is better left in people’s pockets. £9 per person might not seem much but if it was spent, it would help the economy and save a business (perhaps a local one), and if it was saved in a bank account, it might save some “bailout” money. Whenever reading claims like Don’s, one should always remember What Is Seen and What Is Not Seen:

http://www.econlib.org/library/Bastiat/basEss1.html

My problem is, and will be until it is resolves is two fold.

You have CEOs, assistants, and blah, blah – some paid more than government ministers – I ask why? I do not, and will never, agree with the argument that they run something equivalent to a private company etc – that is sheer BS!

I do want to see where the cash is going – and why shouldn’t people be allowed to see the receipts? It is public money and should be as accountable as that given to central government.

Giving people more isn’t just about increasing by a quid a week or 100 quid a week – it is about how efficiently that money is spent.

I have always wanted to know what are the services that local government should provide? The A to Z is just mind blowing!

I am an advocate of regional government and local town councils. The local governments we have now in the UK are monoliths that are just too big.

Hackney Council must be the most efficiently run outfit – public or private – in the whole country if it cannot find admininstrative and other overhead coat savings of 2.5% to divert to frontline services, or find ways to deliver those services themselves more productively.

Is that the case I wonder?

The problem Don is that, after years of massive increases during the (partly illusory) good times, your pleas will only fall on deaf ears.

#14 Freezing council tax is just financially irresponsible.

So is sneakining millions of extra cash in Icelandic bank for the purpose of ‘investment’.

I must say, I am blown away by the fact that not a single person here so far has argued against the deep unfairness of the Council tax.
To clarify, I’m all up for a local authority tax. It exists everywhere and there are so many services that need funding. Absolutely.

It’s just that having studied how the Council tax works as opposed to other countries I came to the conclusion it’s the unfairest tax in Britain. In my shitty humble opinion, of course.
Hackney are simply making up for fifteen years of EXTORTIONATE mindblowing increases.
I repeat, credit to them.

#18,19
“Giving people more isn’t just about increasing by a quid a week or 100 quid a week – it is about how efficiently that money is spent. “

Abso-bloody-lutely.
I worked three years for a certain CIty Council (not gonna say which one, though I guess it’s fairly obvious), and the amount of money wasted I have seen with my own eyes was ridiculous. As in, ridiculously high.
The risk here is to sound like the Daily Mail or the Express. However, the amount of mid-management was simply baffling. There was a certain department with 3 staff and 4 managers. Wish I could say more but not online…
I tell you one simple story. It’s a pure anecdote but it may give you the idea.
Someone at the top decided to buy a new coffee machine. Council funds were used. But, a bit like the M&S ad, they didn’t buy a coffee machine. They didn’t buy a decent coffee machine. They bought the most state-of-the-art stratospherically expensive one. With public money.
Now, I’m sure the Council tax didn’t to up because of that. But there is a certain culture in some local authorities…

Until councils prove they provide value for money , they should not receive a larger income. Councils should provide information on all the people they employ; their job description; their remuneration package( including hours worked and holidays) and should also include number of days taken sick In Derby, a pensioner refused to pay her council tax because the council allowed the road in which she lived to become a slum used by junkies. The pensioner was sent to prison . Councils are capable of utterly incompetent expenditure and then just expect the council tax payers to pay up. As Obama has said , transparency will be a key aspect of his administration.

22. Mike Killingworth

Yup. If local authority workers took no more sick leave than people in the private sector we could cut Council Tax in half. Or maybe not.

People who believe that there is a lot of waste in the public sector tend to hold it as an article of faith and are impervious to reasoned argument. My own articles of faith are

- that the private sector doesn’t even pretend to control costs in boom times, but is ruthless at doing so in times like these. In other words, the relative efficiency of the public sector goes up in prosperity, down in adversity, even though its behaviour changes not a whit;

- and that by comparison with small firms/voluntary organisations all large outfits are “inefficient” in these terms.

My favourite story about local government management concerns a Director of Social Services who was top-notch at cutting the service year on year. I asked him what he’d do if he was told to implement a 10% budget increase – he replied “I don’t think I could – I’d have to leave!”

My favourite story? Maybe it’s the one about the council staff being sent for NLP, or perhaps it’s the one about the chairmen not wishing to cut down on their chauffeur driven cars… or the one about the 20-odd councils who thought it wise to invest in Landsbanki…

As for the roads in Spain, I think their good condition has rather more to do with EU structural readjustment funds than local taxes.

Hi Don

Your argument would be compelling if Hackney had been cutting services in order to keep the Council Tax down.

But we haven’t.

We’ve been so sucessful in finding back office Gershon efficiency savings (i,e. reducing bureaucracy without hitting front line services) that we have been able to freeze the Council Tax and invest in the kind of services you describe – every budget where we’ve frozen the Council Tax has also seen us put growth into the areas of policy priority that were in our Labour manifesto in 2006.

Luke

Luke,
Do your back office Gershon efficiencies include cuts in Hackney Today?
Or have you made so many such cuts it allows you to expand the paper along the lines of Eastend Life in your neighbouring borough?

Still (mildly) peed off that no-one on Liberal Conspiracy seem to call for a total overhaul/radical review of the Council Tax.

Claude – I call for a total overview of the entire tax system. We should abolish all of it!

Claude: I’d back a review of council tax, I said throughout my comments that I believe the different services we use through the council actually need to be taxed in two different seperate ways, so I don’t know why you don’t think that we here don’t agree with finding a better system.

I just don’t know that we all agree so much with you that council tax is some burdening evil that we must stop ASAP either.

30. Mike Killingworth

Well, one obvious saving (which I think Ken Livingstone supports, or used to) would be to reduce the number of boroughs in London. The present number, 32, was arrived at in the early 1960s, a time when practically everything was done in house. (I’m assuming the City Corporation will continue on its own sweet way…)

I suspect that this is one of those things that everyone would like to see, but no one wants the pain of the transition costs on their watch. My own preference would be for more powers to the Mayor, replace Council Tax with a London Income Tax and to seek to classify services by those where uniformity of provision is most important (e.g education, social care) and those where local diversity can take preference (e.g parks management) with the former going to City Hall and the latter perhaps to Neighbourhood Councils, based on postal districts (which largely match “real” boundaries – the outer areas could produce their own proposals but a guideline population would be 30 to 40 thousand) – the latter to be funded by grant-aid from City Hall according to a formula (civil servants are really good at that kind of thing) with the power to bid for additional project funding. The NCs should not need a large staff as they would be primarily contract managers.

I’m happy with my (Bristol) services being paid for by a London Income Tax ;)


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  1. DonaldS

    How inner London’s greenest borough (http://tinyurl.com/4k7l7u) could have spent some extra C-Tax revenue: http://tinyurl.com/cr4gk9





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