More directed localism from government today, with George Osborne announcing a freeze on council tax. Last time I looked, it was individual councils, via it’s elected members, that decided whether or not their council tax should rise, fall or remain the same, not the Chancellor of the Exchequer.
Of course central government has the power to cap councils that it feels are planning to levy an excessive increase in their council tax rate. However, it now seems that the Chancellor has decided that he knows exactly what every council in the country needs to keep providing services to it’s local taxpayers, even before those councils have started their budget setting deliberations for the next civic year.
Of course, any relief in the ever increasing rise in household bills is to be welcomed and any council that decided to increase it’s council tax levels after the Chancellor’s announcement, would be either very confident of it’s political support amongst it’s taxpayers, very foolish, or desperate. However, that’s not the point. This government has banged on and on about getting rid of ‘big government’ and giving power back to local people. Yet, in an opportunistic piece of political posturing at the party conference, George Osborne is now going to tell local councils that it is not their role to make this decision on behalf of their local taxpayers. So much for localism.