With Sheffielders paying 39% more in real terms over ten years (Star 18 November), rising council tax is an easy target for anger. But the greater part of local council funding comes from central government grants, with smaller contributions from businesses and local residents. A small cut in the government grant or a decline in business income during a recession means that councils have trouble maintaining services. Even if councils wanted to raise council tax to meet the shortfall, Government sets a cap on the rise to protect citizens from the effect of cutting the central grant.
It is unfair to expect deprived areas with the greatest needs to find the money through heavier taxation. We need a central balancing mechanism. We also need to increase, not cut, public spending in order to tackle the triple challenge of an economic downturn, future energy shortages and accelerating climate change. We need to be clear where the problem of high council tax and cuts in services lie. It is with central government and with the three major parties falling over themselves to bail out the banks and cut public spending rather than investing in the real infrastructure and people of this country.
Councillor Jillian Creasy