UNISONActive is an unofficial blog produced by UNISON activists for UNISON activists. Bringing news, briefings and events from a progressive left perspective.

Tuesday, 5 February 2013

Eric’s prefect used to threaten local council leaders

The debacle that Pickles deployed to control council tax rises (after spending years condemning the labour government’s imposition of council tax capping) looks set to end in an even bigger farce. Junior Minister Brandon Lewis has warned (also to be read as threatened) councils that work perfectly lawfully within the current rules with changes next year if they ignore central government diktat on how much money they can raise through council tax. The laughable DCLG letter is here.

The letter points out that Brandon’s big boss Mr Pickles will be minded to ‘propose different principles for different categories of authority and to take into account authorities' council tax decisions in 2013-14’. In other words forget Localism big brother Pickles is watching you and he will simply ignore locally elected leaders in exchange for top down rules that he will unashamedly bend to suit. This is akin to changing the offside rule mid-way through a match just in case his own side loses.

This is a desperate act of an incompetent Minister who imposed silly and unworkable rules on local councils, against any sensible advice. It is surprising he is in a still in a job but Cameron is still too desperate to cling to the now thin headlines of ‘protecting’ citizens from council tax increases.

Marginal increases in council tax pale into insignificance when welfare cuts hit the poorest, when councils need to impose new council tax bills on those previously exempted from payments and when food prices, fuel hikes and transport costs are crippling families. A few pence on council tax is no longer where the battle for hearts and minds of voters will take shape.

The public can only be fooled by the rhetoric of Pickles for so long before realising that empty vessels make the most noise. I would hazard a guess that the majority of Tory councillors would also be glad to see Pickles go.

Anna Rose