Bill Carmichael: This tax should go down, not up

LOCAL authority councillors have been spitting with fury this week because they have been denied what they see as their God given right to increase council tax.

In what was widely seen as a shrewd political move, central government offered councils cash incentives – described by some councillors as a “bribe” – on the condition that they froze council tax for next year. This placed many councillors in a dilemma – if they decided to refuse the cash in order to increase council tax as they wanted, they would undoubtedly face the wrath of voters. As a result, many reluctantly agreed to a zero increase, although they clearly didn’t like it. Around the country, angry councillors have been threatening to get their own back by imposing even higher council tax increases as soon as they get the chance.

This demonstrates a worrying mindset among our elected representatives.

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They think the natural order of things is for council tax to rise each year, regardless of the economic problems suffered by householders who have to fork out ever increasing amounts of tax. The consequence is a doubling of council tax in the last decade. The argument this is spent on “front-line services” is easily dismissed.

Ask yourself a simple question – are the services you receive from your council twice as good as they were 10 years ago?

Of course not. In many cases, they are far worse. The extra money has not been spent on the services that people value, but on huge salaries and lucrative perks for council employees alongside grandiose social engineering projects and politically correct posturing. For example, the chief executive of my very small, Conservative-led, district council in North Yorkshire is paid £95,000 a year, and the authority employs not one, but two, officers dedicated to saving the planet by combating global warming. The notion that these two officers will influence global carbon emissions or average world temperatures is simply laughable.

By cutting out such non-jobs, cracking down on waste and paying more reasonable salaries to senior officers, councils could easily reduce spending by between 20 and 30 per cent.

What councillors need to comprehend is that you boost the local economy by lowering, not increasing, taxes. If you leave the money in the pockets of the people who earned it, they will spend it far more wisely and productively than a bureaucrat ever will..

Council tax should be going down each year, not up. Remember that when your councillor comes knocking and asking for your vote in a couple of months’ time.

Turbine racket

More evidence, if any were needed, that the whole “green” tax racket is a massive con that robs the poor to further enrich the wealthy.

Research carried out by Professor Gordon Hughes of Edinburgh University indicates that covering the countryside with wind turbines will cost consumers £120bn by 2020 through higher bills – almost ten times the cost of producing our electricity through gas-fired power stations.Even worse – the reduction in carbon dioxide emissions will be negligible, because we will still need to build conventional power stations as a back-up for when the wind doesn’t blow.

The main beneficiaries, other than the green lobby, are rich landowners who pocket “monstrous subsidies” to build inefficient and unreliable wind farms.

A wind turbine generating £150,000 worth of electricity a year receives subsides of £250,000. A dozen of the largest landowners will pocket £850m in subsidies – all paid for by ordinary people who can barely afford to heat their homes.

Disgraceful doesn’t even come near to describing this shameful state of affairs.