AUTHORITIES ARE DOING EVERYTHING IN THEIR POWER TO KEEP COUNCIL TAX
COMMENTING on the announcement by ODPM this week that Council
Tax increases are set to average 4.5%, Chairman of the Local
Government Association, Sir Sandy Bruce Lockhart, said:-
"The Council Tax rise is higher than Councils themselves would
want. Councils are championing the interests of local residents and
are doing everything in their power to keep Council Tax down.
The money given by central government to most councils was better
than originally proposed yet it still left over half of all councils
with social services responsibilities with a grant increase of 2% or
less. However, the settlement included no funding for demographic
change such as the increasing number of vulnerable elderly people
and more people with mental and physical disabilities requiring care
and this will lead to reductions in some services.
We are also getting some worrying examples of the NHS cost shunting
through moving people out of hospital too early and placing them
into local council social care.
Although local government is delivering more efficiency savings than
any other part of the public sector this has left very little room
for many authorities to manoeuvre between higher council tax and
service reductions. We were dismayed that the Chancellor has
withdrawn his £200 allowance for pensioners which we had asked to be
kept until Council Tax is reformed next year.
There is £2.5billion spent on civil servants issuing directives and
guidance, prescribing performance indicators, overseeing bid funding
schemes and regulating and inspecting local authorities. By cutting
down on this bureaucracy, the money could then be ploughed back into
front line services or to reduce Council Tax."
DEMANDS FOR PENSION SCHEME WILL COST COUNCIL TAXPAYERS MORE THAN 2%
EXTRA A YEAR
THE Local Government Association this week warned that
changes proposed by unions to the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS)
would add at least 2% a year to every council taxpayer's bill.
The LGA will highlight that the Unions have asked for the so-called
85 year rule to apply to everyone in the scheme at 30 September
2006. A detailed analysis by both the Local Government Association
and Ministerial Actuarial advice is that this would cost £6billion
over the next 15 years, this is the equivalent of 2% extra every year on every
householders Council Tax bill.
The Local Government Association will also today urge the Deputy
Prime Minister to announce his decision on what the changes to the
LGPS will be. The 13 week consultation on changes to the scheme
closed at the end of February with both the unions and Local
Government awaiting his announcement as to what changes will be
Chairman of the Local Government Association, Sir Sandy Bruce
Lockhart, said:- "The council
taxpayer simply cannot pay more.
The changes to local government staff pensions are both needed and
necessary. There must be a modern scheme that is affordable, viable
and fit for the 21st century. People are living longer and unless
action is taken now the cost to individual council tax payers and
local government will continue to rise.
The key aspect of these changes is to make sure the pension scheme
does not cost the council taxpayer any more money while at the same
time making sure that local government continues to be an attractive
place to work in.
The employers and the unions have both given their advice to the
Deputy Prime Minister and together with staff are waiting for him,
as the decision maker, to make up his mind."
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