In the Medway Messenger on 5th December (page 3 side bar) an article on Tax caught my eye; Fears of tax freeze.
Medway council , has for a couple of years, has kept its Council tax frozen (partly from directives from the Coalition last year and pressure from opposition parties such as Labour and the Lib Dems.) however as the one year, one of Government grant to cover the shortfall is to run out for the next financial year Councillor Alan Jarrett is quoted as saying;
There is a real sustainability issue there. The government grant is for one ear only and it doesn't take much of a mathematician to realise that in the year that follows we would be faced with the problem of a £2.5 million gap to find.
He also warns that if authorities opted to freeze tax next year then in the financial year 2013/14 there would have to be a rise of 5.1% which works out as an extra £5.50 a month for me (around £550's P.A) which doesn't sound a lot but when you factor in that energy bills are going up, rail fare by 6%, VAT stands at 20% and my pay, if it goes up at all, will increase by a staggering 1% so I suffer a financial short fall.
I'll come back to that later...
On the Council side... There has been a VERY real possibility that council taxes will be frozen for a good few years for a while. The hard pressed citizens and voters are simply being pressed to much for funds and yet Cllr Jarrett has not accounted for this in forward financial planning.
It was also known that the Grant from Parliament was for ONE year only and there was never a guarantee that there would be another. After all National Government has to raise and maintain its own funds.
Why was there no further forward planning by the local Conservative administration?
Are there any contingency plans for this financial outcome which has been a possibility? Any money squirrelled away?