Recent Local Government Articles

Scotland: at least Labour could oppose independence independently

by Dave Osler     October 19, 2012 at 2:40 pm

In a part of Britain in which the population still gets overly excited about the ideological alignments of its football clubs, the British flag is not just a neutral patriotic symbol.

Thirteen-year-old Lee Heron was earlier this year sent home from his high school in Newton Stewart, Wigtownshire, for wearing a Union Jack T-shirt his mum had bought him Primark. This attire, his teacher deemed, was likely to inflame sectarian tension among the pupils.

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Tory tax on the poor – coming to a council near you

by Guest     September 30, 2012 at 10:36 am

contribution by Seema Chandwani

Once upon a time, there were 20 people living in King Tory‘s Mansion, 10 of whom were assessed as ‘unable’ to pay for their Council Tax for various reasons ranging from old age, disabilities, mental illness or lowly paid. The total amount of Council Tax for all 20 people was £2,000, or £100 per a person. The 10 that could pay, did directly and the 10 that could not had their Council Tax paid for by King Tory, totalling £1,000.

One day King Tory says to the 10 who can’t pay: “We are only going to pay £900 towards your Council Tax”, or a 10% cut. The 10 would need to find £10 each to top up the amount needed for Council Tax.

King Tory has a condition: he will give £900 but the pensioners will be protected 100% from paying any Council Tax. As 5 of the 10 are pensioners, £500 of the £900 is spent on them. This means the remaining 5 only have £400 between them, and now need to find £20 each. So the cut for them is 20% even though the pot is only 10% smaller.

* * * * * * * * * *

The central government is imposing an ideology many of us would remember as the ‘Poll Tax’ where everyone must pay something. What they have done is fired a shot, and handed the gun to Local Councils to take the rap. We must not be fooled by this, even though some Councils appear to be taking the blame for the shot fired.

Who gets shot next is up to us, it’s called ‘Localism’, through the ‘consultations’.

Central Government have asked Local Councils to undertake, we decide who pays and who does not, whether everyone outside the protected pensioners pay 20% or whether we also protect low income families with Children, thus increasing the percentage for the rest.

We are being forced to choose one vulnerable group over another, groups that probably will already be facing cuts in Working Tax Credits, Housing Benefit, Disability Allowance and anything else from the ‘Overall Benefit Cap (OBC) etc.

This also creates a ‘postcode lottery’ as People with Disabilities could win the X-Factor style choice in one borough but in a neighbouring borough People with Disabilities have not won the popularity contest to be chosen. Therefore, many Local Councils are proposing a blanket ‘they all pay the same percentage regardless of circumstances’ roll out.

In Haringey where I live the shortfall is £5.7m this year and it is not 10 people affected, it is 36,000 in our borough alone. Some families are looking at a loss of a variety of benefits, including Council Tax to equate a weekly shortfall of up to £246.33.

Haringey is one of the cheapest places in London to live, so if families are unable to live here then social cleansing from more affluent areas is most definitely going to be taking place, if not already.

There are options, the Local Authority could use money from another budget to pay for this shortfall, but in Haringey that budget is already being cut by £86m just like many boroughs in England. Even if the Local Council decided to sell an ‘Old Peoples Home’ this year, what are they selling next year or the year after?

Whilst communities up and down the country figure out how this can all be paid for, ‘King Tory’ and his friends are enjoying their Income Tax Cut and some are not even paying any taxes.

Seema Chandwani is a member of the Labour Left National Committee & Editor for Labour Left Blog

A year after the riots: could money solve Tottenham’s problems?

by Guest     July 29, 2012 at 9:54 am

contribution by Alvin Carpio

Voltaire once said, “When it is a question of money, everybody is of the same religion.” I’m not so sure about that.

Shortly after the riots ended last year, Tottenham has received a wave of investment into its local economy. However, money alone cannot solve the area’s problems and unless they are dealt with head on we run the risk of more civil unrest.

Sir William Castell’s business coalition set up a £1m High Street Fund to support Tottenham’s local business community. The department for Communities and Local Government (CLG) has awarded grants to 150 businesses totalling £365,000 and more than £1m of rate relief has been awarded to date.
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The shocking story of how a council pursued Peter Williams

by Guest     July 20, 2012 at 4:18 pm

contribution by Matilda Murday

On the 8th of February a man took his own life. Peter Williams was a gifted engineer, whose invention, still manufactured today, landed him in the Guinness World Records, but he was driven to bankruptcy and suicide by an unthinking and inhumane bureaucratic system.

Falling ill after his diabetes medication failed he fell into arrears on his council tax.

Months later, having paid of these arrears in full the council charged him £1350 in court costs. Unable to pay but not refusing to, he made an offer in 2005 to pay in instalments, this was refused.
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When Eton and Goldman Sachs run charities, system needs reform

by Jim Jepps     April 16, 2012 at 1:50 pm

There’s been much gnashing of teeth over the government’s proposal to cap tax relief on charitable giving at £50,000 (or a quarter of your income).

Charities are concerned that the changes will discourage the rich from donating if it’s no longer in their interests and The Telegraph reports today the government has accepted the changes in the rules will impact on charitable giving.

Most of us donate money without taking any tax benefit and no rich person will be prevented from donating to charity, only prevented from taking that money out of tax revenue in order to do so. Even with those caveats, charitable giving is in desperate need of reform.
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Letting betting shops proliferate is part of a wider problem

by Sunny Hundal     February 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm

Southwark Councillor Rowenna Davis (who has written for LC occasionally) has launched a campaign that says betting shops are blighting local high streets across Britain.

She wants councils to be given more power to stop them from springing up everywhere.

She has a point, and I support the campaign – not just because I abhor betting shops.
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How a local council went after the family of a convicted rioter

by Cllr Leonie Cooper     January 20, 2012 at 11:30 am

Yards of coverage were devoted to the August rioters and the severity of their sentences.

As a Wandsworth Councillor, I have the entirely dubious honour of being associated with the Council that rushed to serve the first Eviction Notice on a Council tenant – only 4 days after the riot in Clapham Junction.

But the tenant served with the Notice was not the alleged rioter – it was his mother, and his 8 year old younger sister.
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Help us stop Conservatives from time-limiting disabled benefits

by Sue Marsh     December 10, 2011 at 1:51 pm

It seems that the Conservatives are simply not willing to give an inch on Time Limiting ESA.

Just to be clear, this means that if you have worked and paid national insurance contributions you will face an assessment. If that assessment finds that you are indeed unwell, but may be able to do some work at some point, you will only qualify for support for a year.

At the end of that year, no matter how ill you remain, if you have a partner who earns just £7,500 or more, or limited savings, you will lose all ESA. All of it.
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The local reality behind Cameron’s ‘dreams of home ownership’

by Guest     November 23, 2011 at 1:31 pm

contribution by Andy Slaughter MP

Yesterday, David Cameron stated that the “dream of home ownership” must be available to everybody, only a few days after one of Hammersmith and Fulham council’s properties featured on the BBC programme “Homes under the Hammer”.

The property was valued at £185,000 but sold for £221,000 at auction, which on the surface looks like a good deal.

However, far from making a council tenant a homeowner, the property was bought by someone who neither lived there, nor intended to.
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Top 10 terrible Tory councils of the past 10 weeks

by Paul Cotterill     November 17, 2011 at 3:42 pm

There are extra points for hypocrisy-while-being-evil-or-stupid, and extra style points for crass stupidity beyond human reason…. So without further do:

10. Kensington and Chelsea. K&C make it in at number 10 with the news that they’ve misused millions of pounds on consultancy contracts.
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