Dear oh dear this blog has suffered in recent week as too many meetings - can't poss catch them all here - and really do you want to know about the meeting regarding new IT security systems for councillors?
More interesting was last week's scrutiny where I may get an inquiry into how the Council decides priorities re funding housing - tenants want fuel poverty number one but we seem to be spending more on decent homes standards....another meeting already briefly mention was looking at equalities in the Council (talking of which it is Gay Pride tomorrow - meet 1 at Shire Hall for the march). Another was our monthly Green party meeting while another was a policy panel at the District Council looking at the self-financing options for Council housing?
But hey I'm distracted I wanted to comment on the budget - already late on that! Well late for a blog but the press release below went out at the right time - although sadly press so far have covered mostly other party views....anyway first the press release then more comment....
BUDGET APPROACH IS WRONG
This budget has no answer to the dominance of the free market gamblers responsible for this recession but makes the people who are the least to blame suffer the cuts: public sector workers, those who receive their services and those on the lowest incomes.
Cllr Philip Booth says, “The Government claims the cuts are fairest to the poorest but these are the very people more likely to use the services that will be affected. This will also weaken the economy as businesses lose profits, people lose their jobs and consequently pay less tax. The ability to pay off the debt will be seriously affected too. Governments tried to solve deficits by cutting in the 1930s and 1980s: it didn’t work then and it won’t work now.”
Cllr Martin Whiteside, Green Party parliamentary spokesperson, says “The Government should redress the imbalance in UK society, not by cutting vital services but by fairer, more progressive taxes: applying the 50% tax rate to incomes over £100,000, abolishing the upper limit for national insurance contributions, raising capital gains tax to the recipient’s highest income tax rate and helping lower earners by reintroducing the 10% tax band.”
Cutting tax offices around the UK is also a huge mistake as HM Revenue and Customs themselves admit that around £68billion in tax was either avoided, evaded or simply unpaid in 2009. We need more tax officers working to collect that tax and reduce the deficit.
Martin adds, “The biggest missed opportunity with the budget is the failure to tackle the real issues that will face our country and our economy in the next 5 to 10 years: energy security, pressure on resources and climate change. We urge the government to adopt the Green New Deal to create a million new jobs in the UK and to really prepare the country for a low carbon economy. The cost of not doing so will be enormous."
I have to note that I am gravely concerned to see so many wide-ranging cuts to public spending. The effects of this announcement will have a massive impact on local government and communities. The enforced freeze on council tax is a crude attempt by central government to shift the blame for soon-to-be disappearing public services onto local government. Not only is the Government desperate to avoid criticism for their own ruthless economic policy, but they’re limiting the flexibility for local councils to be able to manage fairly the cuts the Government is demanding.
The public sector pay freeze which will affect many locally, which on the face of it may seem reasonable to some, will in fact amount to a pay-cut to some of those on lower incomes once inflation is taken into account.
The whole approach to tackling our problems is wrong - as Caroline Lucas said: "Cuts are not an economic inevitability. They are an ideological choice." And as for green measures well they seem to have been ignored....maybe more on all that but have to rush now....
See Green party "Callous Cuts" report here. See also here my comments re Cameron's challnge re spending launched this week.