Stoke Labour Group reject Council Tax Freeze

Following the decision by the local Labour Group to reject the option to freeze council tax in these difficult times, I decided to ask the MP responsible for advice on options open to residents of Stoke on Trent

To Eric Pickles, MP

I am hoping you can give myself and fellow residents some advice
regarding out Local Authority.

Stoke on Trent is one of the few Council to increase council Tax
ignoring your offer of help and worse have increased it by the maximum
possible 3.49%, They have made cuts of £24million despite government
reduction of only around £8million, previous to that they cut
£36million again way above Government reductions.

The Council say they need to increase council tax so as to increase
the tax base, after making £60million of cuts should they really be
considering increasing council tax again next year?

Has the Government given Local Councils and idea on 2013-14 settlement?

But what can local residents do about situation, Stoke on Trent
council now holds elections every 4 years, so voting them out is not
an option. Is there any way local residents can force a vote of no
confidence or other means to get Government to come to Stoke and step
in on the way the council is run.

Any ideas or thoughts will be greatly appreciated.

Ian

Dear Mr Norris,

Thank you for your email of 27 February to the Secretary of State, Eric Pickles, about Stoke-on-Trent’s Council’s increase in its council tax.  I am replying on his behalf.

Ministers share your disappointment with the council’s decision to increase its council tax.  The Government has made available a grant to all councils which freeze or reduce their council tax in 2012-13. The grant is equivalent to a 2.5% increase in the council tax and allows councils to receive additional funding without increasing their council tax.

The Government does not accept the authority’s argument that an increase in its council tax will embed that additional funding in the amount it can raise through council tax for future years.  It has been made clear that the Government has not yet made final decisions on how it will determine the needs baseline in the new rates retention system from 2013-14 onwards.  Authorities cannot therefore assume they are increasing their spending power for future years by rejecting the freeze and increasing their council tax.

The council tax freeze scheme is voluntary, so it is up to councils to decide whether or not they wish to accept this funding.  Ministers believe the authority should not be taking money out of the pockets of their council taxpayers when they could instead take advantage of Government funding to freeze the council tax.  However, Stoke-on Trent council has taken a decision to raise its council tax instead of taking the funding available for a freeze – it is for them to account to their electorate for that decision.

Yours sincerely,

Robert Crangle

Department of Communities and Local Government

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2 responses to “Stoke Labour Group reject Council Tax Freeze

  1. Hi Ian, great letter! Mind if I link to it from StokeElected and share it around a bit? 🙂

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