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Newbury Today Forum _ Random Rants _ Surrey confirms plans to raise council tax by 15%

Posted by: Biker1 Jan 21 2017, 07:19 PM

Personally I would not vote for this unless I could scrutinise current council spending and be convinced that current taxes were being spent in what I would consider the right places and that the necessary economies had been made.
Comparing with a domestic situation, upon finding that your income did not meet your expenditure I find it unlikely that your employer would agree to a 15% pay rise?
You would instead have to reorganise your finances, yes?

Posted by: newres Jan 21 2017, 07:50 PM

Interesting article here.

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/jan/20/theresa-may-council-chief-others-will-follow-surrey-tax-rise-social-care

Posted by: Biker1 Jan 21 2017, 08:00 PM

Interesting, but will / can it be implemented without a referendum as it is above the government's permitted rise threshold?
I would predict the majority will vote against such a steep rise, so what then?

Posted by: newres Jan 21 2017, 09:37 PM

QUOTE (Biker1 @ Jan 21 2017, 08:00 PM) *
Interesting, but will / can it be implemented without a referendum as it is above the government's permitted rise threshold?
I would predict the majority will vote against such a steep rise, so what then?

Would you vote again knowing they are a Tory council, have made already enormous savings, but the cuts imposed by central government mean that they can't meet their obligations without the raise? I wouldn't be keen to pay 15% more either, but on the face of it their case is compelling.

"Hodge said his council had made 450m in savings since 2010, and was on track to save 700m by 2020, with demand for social care rising all the time."

Posted by: On the edge Jan 21 2017, 10:01 PM

QUOTE (newres @ Jan 21 2017, 09:37 PM) *
Would you vote again knowing they are a Tory council, have made already enormous savings, but the cuts imposed by central government mean that they can't meet their obligations without the raise? I wouldn't be keen to pay 15% more either, but on the face of it their case is compelling.

"Hodge said his council had made 450m in savings since 2010, and was on track to save 700m by 2020, with demand for social care rising all the time."


Given the similar political complexion of HMG and Surrey County Council; I smell a rat. There is an answer to Surrey's problem of course, but Unison certainly won't like it.

Posted by: Biker1 Jan 22 2017, 09:39 AM

15%?!!
Look at the hoo-ha over 1-2% rise in rail fares!
I think the nub is that people rarely, if ever, vote for a tax rise.

Posted by: Andy Capp Jan 22 2017, 10:31 AM

I see a no vote as the council being given a mandate to make further cuts it doesn't want to make.

Posted by: On the edge Jan 22 2017, 04:30 PM

QUOTE (Andy Capp @ Jan 22 2017, 10:31 AM) *
I see a no vote as the council being given a mandate to make further cuts it doesn't want to make.


If it's a Tory controlled Council, it should say 'pretends it doesn't want to make'.

Perhaps it's high time the idea that voters would have far more influence if they simply spoilt their ballot paper by adding a 'none of these' box. It really does disturb them!

Posted by: Simon Kirby Jan 22 2017, 06:18 PM

QUOTE (Biker1 @ Jan 22 2017, 09:39 AM) *
15%?!!
Look at the hoo-ha over 1-2% rise in rail fares!
I think the nub is that people rarely, if ever, vote for a tax rise.

Council services need to be paid for, I applaud what they've done and it's shameful that the WBC Tory administration has not done the same. Society needs public services; the provision of public services is a pretty good working definition of what society is. I especially don't want to see public services to vulnerable people slashed. However, I feel like I'm already paying plenty of tax and I'd first like to see the parishes pared-back to basics and their precepts applied to something more deserving than flag-poles and a new hat for the mayor.

Posted by: user23 Jan 22 2017, 07:19 PM

QUOTE (Biker1 @ Jan 21 2017, 07:19 PM) *
Personally I would not vote for this unless I could scrutinise current council spending and be convinced that current taxes were being spent in what I would consider the right places and that the necessary economies had been made.
Comparing with a domestic situation, upon finding that your income did not meet your expenditure I find it unlikely that your employer would agree to a 15% pay rise?
You would instead have to reorganise your finances, yes?
Yes you're right, however reorganising their finances will mean cutting back on social care and other services.

They've calculated how much they need to raise council tax by not to have to do this, and they're obliged to give people the choice through a referendum as it's over the 3.99% threshold.

As for scrutiniszing their finances, https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/business-and-consumers/supplying-the-council/council-spending-open-data.

Posted by: On the edge Jan 22 2017, 07:48 PM

Quite facinating, then there is the Oxfordshire idea, which is apparently to have one unitary authority for the whole area because it's cheaper, more efficient and far less confusing for the public! Of course, 'fact based evidence' from good old West Berkshire shows that is all utter nonsense.

A perfect storm is brewing!

Posted by: user23 Jan 22 2017, 08:19 PM

QUOTE (On the edge @ Jan 22 2017, 07:48 PM) *
Quite facinating, then there is the Oxfordshire idea, which is apparently to have one unitary authority for the whole area because it's cheaper, more efficient and far less confusing for the public! Of course, 'fact based evidence' from good old West Berkshire shows that is all utter nonsense.

A perfect storm is brewing!
Apparently http://www.cherwell.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=11433, much like Berkshire.

Posted by: x2lls Jan 22 2017, 09:43 PM

Is there now a situation, whereby those can ill afford a rise in the precept, get dragged into an increase of their outgoings, based on those of the population that said yes, can feel to be 'honorable', can afford to pay the extra, and don't need the financial support required?

Posted by: On the edge Jan 22 2017, 10:12 PM

QUOTE (user23 @ Jan 22 2017, 08:19 PM) *
Apparently http://www.cherwell.gov.uk/index.cfm?articleid=11433, much like Berkshire.


Quite!

Unbelievable, like suggesting John Lewis should make Sir Philip Green CEO.

Posted by: blackdog Jan 22 2017, 11:23 PM

QUOTE (newres @ Jan 21 2017, 09:37 PM) *
"Hodge said his council had made 450m in savings since 2010, and was on track to save 700m by 2020, with demand for social care rising all the time."


450m is a lot of savings, but, in terms of an budget of 1.68billion (after the cuts) and spread over 7 years it's not quite such an impressive performance. I can't find the equivalent figure for West Berks, but I suspect it might be a higher proportion of their 2017 budget.

Posted by: Simon Kirby Jan 23 2017, 08:16 AM

QUOTE (blackdog @ Jan 22 2017, 11:23 PM) *
450m is a lot of savings, but, in terms of an budget of 1.68billion (after the cuts) and spread over 7 years it's not quite such an impressive performance. I can't find the equivalent figure for West Berks, but I suspect it might be a higher proportion of their 2017 budget.

You say "savings", and that obviously play well to a Tory audience, but what we're actually talking about is slashing the provision of social service.

Posted by: JeffG Jan 23 2017, 09:27 AM

QUOTE (x2lls @ Jan 22 2017, 09:43 PM) *
Is there now a situation, whereby those can ill afford a rise in the precept, get dragged into an increase of their outgoings, based on those of the population that said yes, can feel to be 'honorable', can afford to pay the extra, and don't need the financial support required?

You mean like the way nearly half the country was dragged out of the EU against their will? It's just democracy at work, innit?

Posted by: blackdog Jan 23 2017, 09:31 AM

QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Jan 23 2017, 08:16 AM) *
You say "savings", and that obviously play well to a Tory audience, but what we're actually talking about is slashing the provision of social service.

I followed the theme of the quote - but, yes, savings are cuts and cuts are savings. And, since everything a local council does is provide social services that's what's being cut.

However, this year's budget is the first to be set since 2010 that is lower than the 2010 figure.

I have found rough details of the WBC cuts since 2010 and have a figure of 43.2m - in terms of a 120m annual budget it is significantly higher than the Surrey cuts over the same period (450m from a 1,600m annual budget).

Putting it another way Surrey spends around 1400 for each person in the county, West Berks spends 780.

Surrey gets 122 a head in government grant, WBC gets 61.

If WBC could spend 1400 per head all the cuts would be history, even getting the same grant would mean another 9.5m to spend.

Either West Berks is much more efficient or significantly stingier than Surrey!


Posted by: je suis Charlie Jan 23 2017, 09:39 AM

QUOTE (JeffG @ Jan 23 2017, 09:27 AM) *
You mean like the way nearly half the country was dragged out of the EU against their will? It's just democracy at work, innit?

Or, over half the country was being forced to remain against their will.

Posted by: On the edge Jan 23 2017, 09:55 AM

QUOTE (blackdog @ Jan 23 2017, 09:31 AM) *
I followed the theme of the quote - but, yes, savings are cuts and cuts are savings. And, since everything a local council does is provide social services that's what's being cut.

However, this year's budget is the first to be set since 2010 that is lower than the 2010 figure.

I have found rough details of the WBC cuts since 2010 and have a figure of 43.2m - in terms of a 120m annual budget it is significantly higher than the Surrey cuts over the same period (450m from a 1,600m annual budget).

Putting it another way Surrey spends around 1400 for each person in the county, West Berks spends 780.

Surrey gets 122 a head in government grant, WBC gets 61.

If WBC could spend 1400 per head all the cuts would be history, even getting the same grant would mean another 9.5m to spend.

Either West Berks is much more efficient or significantly stingier than Surrey!


So, if we boil this down, it's just more evidence that local government in the UK is a complete mess. It is also clear evidence that the Government wants to end this nonsense and eliminate management of 'services' locally. The Tories see this as a means to finally abolish the public sector and for Labour, their ethos is naturally centralisation. Do it properly and the logical way to abolish local taxation in such a small country becomes acceptable to the electorate. So, let the storm rage and the punters will be begging for it.



Posted by: JeffG Jan 23 2017, 11:19 AM

QUOTE (je suis Charlie @ Jan 23 2017, 09:39 AM) *
Or, over half the country was being forced to remain against their will.

Now you are being nonsensical. There was a referendum. Unsurprisingly, the majority decided the outcome.

Posted by: je suis Charlie Jan 23 2017, 11:38 AM

QUOTE (JeffG @ Jan 23 2017, 11:19 AM) *
Now you are being nonsensical. There was a referendum. Unsurprisingly, the majority decided the outcome.

Democratically.

Posted by: newres Jan 23 2017, 05:09 PM

QUOTE (je suis Charlie @ Jan 23 2017, 11:38 AM) *
Democratically.

Although Nigel Farage did say he would not accept such a close vote if it were remain and would consider it "unfinished business".

Posted by: Turin Machine Jan 23 2017, 05:54 PM

QUOTE (newres @ Jan 23 2017, 05:09 PM) *
Although Nigel Farage did say he would not accept such a close vote if it were remain and would consider it "unfinished business".

And 'project fear' predicted the sky to fall and a plague of locusts O'er the land, still waiting. Tick tock. tongue.gif

Posted by: Andy Capp Jan 23 2017, 07:01 PM

QUOTE (Turin Machine @ Jan 23 2017, 05:54 PM) *
And 'project fear' predicted the sky to fall and a plague of locusts O'er the land, still waiting. Tick tock. tongue.gif

Not that your argument is relevant, but I think both sides used 'project BS'. Mind you, we haven't left yet.

Posted by: user23 Jan 23 2017, 08:25 PM

QUOTE (newres @ Jan 23 2017, 05:09 PM) *
Although Nigel Farage did say he would not accept such a close vote if it were remain and would consider it "unfinished business".
Here's http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/nigel-farage-wants-second-referendum-7985017 in which he warns that a '52-48 result would be unfinished business'.

Funny how, because it went his way, it's not interested in this any more.

Posted by: je suis Charlie Jan 24 2017, 12:40 AM

Cos Brexit an the election of Donald trump is a secret right wing conspiracy designed to undermine the liberal social element and lead to world chaos presided over by a cabal of billionaire oilmen. Right?

Posted by: Andy Capp Jan 24 2017, 07:51 AM

QUOTE (je suis Charlie @ Jan 24 2017, 12:40 AM) *
Cos Brexit an the election of Donald trump is a secret right wing conspiracy designed to undermine the liberal social element and lead to world chaos presided over by a cabal of billionaire oilmen. Right?

Or Putin.

Posted by: Turin Machine Jan 24 2017, 09:44 AM

Well that's it then, go back to parliament. Ooh exciting times ahead. Not the judgement many wanted, but it's right, under the law it's right. Theresa needs a better lawyer if he didn't see that one. dry.gif

Posted by: Andy Capp Jan 24 2017, 10:21 AM

QUOTE (Turin Machine @ Jan 24 2017, 09:44 AM) *
Well that's it then, go back to parliament. Ooh exciting times ahead. Not the judgement many wanted, but it's right, under the law it's right. Theresa needs a better lawyer if he didn't see that one. dry.gif

I'd like to think it helps for more representative legislation, unless the Monster Raving Tories decide to keep things from the house!

Posted by: Turin Machine Jan 24 2017, 10:22 AM

How so?

Posted by: Andy Capp Jan 24 2017, 12:53 PM

QUOTE (Turin Machine @ Jan 24 2017, 10:22 AM) *
How so?

Because that's how our democracy is set. Members of parliament represent their party and constituents. If the cabinet decided, then that would mean fewer people would be represented.

Posted by: blackdog Jan 24 2017, 03:30 PM

QUOTE (Andy Capp @ Jan 24 2017, 07:51 AM) *
Or Putin.


Putin is a billionaire oilman.

Posted by: blackdog Jan 24 2017, 03:40 PM

QUOTE (JeffG @ Jan 23 2017, 11:19 AM) *
Now you are being nonsensical. There was a referendum. Unsurprisingly, the majority decided the outcome.

Or those that didn't bother to vote decided the outcome.

We're leaving, I'm losing my rights as an EU citizen sad.gif. Faceless bureacrats in Whitehall will take over from faceless bureaucrats in Brussels until Trump sorts out a trade deal with us that will grant power to faceless bureaucrats in Washington. Then we will make a deal with the EU and the faceless bureacrats in Brussels will be back. There will always be faceless bureaucrats, I could never see why I should worry about where their offices were.

Meanwhile the devaluation of the pound means my savings are worth less and my pension is worth less. The only ray of hope is that increased inflation might see a rise in interest rates at last.

Posted by: On the edge Jan 24 2017, 04:44 PM

Oh I dont know Blackdog, it always seemed to me that being a citizen of the EU was rather similar to being a citizen of the USSR. Unless you lived in the controlling state, pity you!

Posted by: Andy Capp Jan 24 2017, 07:34 PM

QUOTE (blackdog @ Jan 24 2017, 03:40 PM) *
Or those that didn't bother to vote decided the outcome.

Or those that had no idea what was going on or how to vote.

Posted by: Andy Capp Jan 24 2017, 07:35 PM

QUOTE (blackdog @ Jan 24 2017, 03:30 PM) *
Putin is a billionaire oilman.

He's more than that: he's head of the government of a world power.

Posted by: Turin Machine Jan 24 2017, 07:36 PM

QUOTE (Andy Capp @ Jan 24 2017, 07:34 PM) *
Or those that had no idea what was going on or how to vote.

Weak, very weak.

Posted by: Biker1 Feb 9 2017, 08:42 PM

Well there you go!
No need for a referendum here, just hit 'em with the max. we can.
5%? - wish my income would go up by that much! angry.gif

Posted by: Andy Capp Feb 10 2017, 01:45 AM

QUOTE (Biker1 @ Feb 9 2017, 08:42 PM) *
Well there you go!
No need for a referendum here, just hit 'em with the max. we can.
5%? - wish my income would go up by that much! angry.gif

3.99% last year too!

Posted by: Andy Capp Feb 10 2017, 01:45 AM

QUOTE (Biker1 @ Feb 9 2017, 08:42 PM) *
Well there you go!
No need for a referendum here, just hit 'em with the max. we can.
5%? - wish my income would go up by that much! angry.gif

3.99% last year too!

Posted by: Biker1 Feb 10 2017, 06:05 AM

QUOTE (Andy Capp @ Feb 10 2017, 02:45 AM) *
3.99% last year too!

Yes and that! angry.gif
Bottomless pit of money sitting spare with the working, tax paying population so it would seem.
Wish I had that to draw on! rolleyes.gif

Posted by: blackdog Feb 10 2017, 07:01 PM

Localism in action! Transfer the tax burdon from corporations and high earners to council taxpayers whille issuing edicts from Whitehall to tell councils what they have to spend it on.

And when are they going to come good on their pledge to allow councils to keep all of their business rates?

Posted by: user23 Feb 11 2017, 01:05 PM

QUOTE (blackdog @ Feb 10 2017, 07:01 PM) *
Localism in action! Transfer the tax burdon from corporations and high earners to council taxpayers whille issuing edicts from Whitehall to tell councils what they have to spend it on.

And when are they going to come good on their pledge to allow councils to keep all of their business rates?
http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/surrey-county-council-take-part-12581667

Posted by: On the edge Feb 12 2017, 08:12 AM

QUOTE (user23 @ Feb 11 2017, 01:05 PM) *
http://www.getsurrey.co.uk/news/surrey-news/surrey-county-council-take-part-12581667


Umm. I wonder what will be done to 'plug the funding gap' when business rates are taken from the Givernment's purse? Is this not simply robbing Peter to pay Paul?

Posted by: user23 Feb 12 2017, 09:35 AM

QUOTE (On the edge @ Feb 12 2017, 08:12 AM) *
Umm. I wonder what will be done to 'plug the funding gap' when business rates are taken from the Givernment's purse? Is this not simply robbing Peter to pay Paul?
Who's planning to take Business Rates from the Government's purse?

Posted by: On the edge Feb 12 2017, 03:02 PM

QUOTE (user23 @ Feb 12 2017, 09:35 AM) *
Who's planning to take Business Rates from the Government's purse?


Well, presumably the business rate in Surrey is being paid to someone? That someone isn't going to be too pleased are they?

Posted by: user23 Feb 12 2017, 03:49 PM

QUOTE (On the edge @ Feb 12 2017, 03:02 PM) *
Well, presumably the business rate in Surrey is being paid to someone? That someone isn't going to be too pleased are they?
I don't think they're going to be reassigned from a specific Government department to Surrey, no, but I see what you mean, Government won't be able to spend the money they give to Surrey.

It's really a drop in the ocean in terms of something like the defence budget though.


Posted by: On the edge Feb 12 2017, 06:32 PM

QUOTE (user23 @ Feb 12 2017, 03:49 PM) *
I don't think they're going to be reassigned from a specific Government department to Surrey, no, but I see what you mean, Government won't be able to spend the money they give to Surrey.

It's really a drop in the ocean in terms of something like the defence budget though.


Yes, I'd agree with all that. Its like throwing herrings to seals, keeps them happy for awhile. It the government really believed in 'localism', they'd keep right out of local government financing, which won't happen anytime soon.

Posted by: Turin Machine Feb 12 2017, 06:56 PM

It's like feeding strawberries to donkeys! angry.gif

Posted by: user23 Feb 12 2017, 07:30 PM

QUOTE (On the edge @ Feb 12 2017, 06:32 PM) *
Yes, I'd agree with all that. Its like throwing herrings to seals, keeps them happy for awhile. It the government really believed in 'localism', they'd keep right out of local government financing, which won't happen anytime soon.
By letting councils keep their Business Rates they are exerting less control over local government financing, as you suggest should happen.

Posted by: On the edge Feb 12 2017, 08:06 PM

QUOTE (user23 @ Feb 12 2017, 07:30 PM) *
By letting councils keep their Business Rates they are exerting less control over local government financing, as you suggest should happen.


Oh yes, but of course! So once it happens for ALL the Councils nationwide all our troubles will be over. We can reverse the cuts, solve the bed blocking by hospitalised OAPs, fully staff the libraries, open the lavatories and enjoy a hog roast from the pigs shot down as they fly over the Kennet.

Bring it on!


(I wonder if the 'expertise' we've had to let go can be tempted back?)

Posted by: Simon Kirby Feb 12 2017, 09:12 PM

QUOTE (Turin Machine @ Feb 12 2017, 06:56 PM) *
It's like feeding strawberries to donkeys! angry.gif

I rather like donkeys.

Posted by: Turin Machine Feb 12 2017, 10:14 PM

QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Feb 12 2017, 09:12 PM) *
I rather like donkeys.

Lucky you ,enough of them in the council.

Posted by: Simon Kirby Feb 12 2017, 10:51 PM

QUOTE (Turin Machine @ Feb 12 2017, 10:14 PM) *
Lucky you ,enough of them in the council.

laugh.gif

Posted by: blackdog Feb 13 2017, 02:41 PM

QUOTE (user23 @ Feb 12 2017, 03:49 PM) *
I don't think they're going to be reassigned from a specific Government department to Surrey, no, but I see what you mean, Government won't be able to spend the money they give to Surrey.

It's really a drop in the ocean in terms of something like the defence budget though.


23billion is well under the defence budget, but it's more like a drop in a cup than a drop in an ocean.

Posted by: blackdog Feb 13 2017, 02:50 PM

QUOTE (On the edge @ Feb 12 2017, 08:06 PM) *
Oh yes, but of course! So once it happens for ALL the Councils nationwide all our troubles will be over. We can reverse the cuts, solve the bed blocking by hospitalised OAPs, fully staff the libraries, open the lavatories and enjoy a hog roast from the pigs shot down as they fly over the Kennet.


Districts like West Berks will indeed be rolling in it - other councils will still be dependent on the whims of central government grants. The post code lottery will be in full swing - there's every chance that West Berks could become a retirement hotspot owing to the cash available to spend on elderly care.

Posted by: On the edge Feb 13 2017, 04:26 PM

QUOTE (blackdog @ Feb 13 2017, 02:50 PM) *
Districts like West Berks will indeed be rolling in it - other councils will still be dependent on the whims of central government grants. The post code lottery will be in full swing - there's every chance that West Berks could become a retirement hotspot owing to the cash available to spend on elderly care.


Quite; essentially to pay for insured social services! No issue with that and in some ways it makes local 'government' even more superfluous and pointless. West Berks being a retirement hotspot / final commute dormitory suburb should come as no surprise - that's what the WBC vision is all about.

Some chap on Radio this morning was making a very strong case for centralised waste management. Won't be too long now before someone notices that the 'central establishment' against what is really done by WBC is wholly out of balance. What next, volunteer CEO? Serious point, with all the affluent retirees we are expecting.

Posted by: blackdog Feb 13 2017, 05:55 PM

Had a rootle on google.

It seems that the 23 billion raised by the business rates would more than pay for adult social care (18.2 billion at its peak).

West Berks collects about 83 million in business rates (2016/17) and currently keeps around 18 million. They also get government grants totalling around 17 million. Assuming they lose all the grants and retain all the rates they will have 48 million a year extra to spend. Not bad on a 120 million budget.

However, it still wouldn't raise the amount they spend per head of population up to the current level of poor old Surrey's spending!


Posted by: On the edge Feb 14 2017, 11:10 AM

QUOTE (blackdog @ Feb 13 2017, 05:55 PM) *
Had a rootle on google.

It seems that the 23 billion raised by the business rates would more than pay for adult social care (18.2 billion at its peak).

West Berks collects about 83 million in business rates (2016/17) and currently keeps around 18 million. They also get government grants totalling around 17 million. Assuming they lose all the grants and retain all the rates they will have 48 million a year extra to spend. Not bad on a 120 million budget.

However, it still wouldn't raise the amount they spend per head of population up to the current level of poor old Surrey's spending!


Fine. So, there is at least 48 million in the Government's safe just waiting to be spent? Being of simple mind, that must surely mean someone has been telling lies about this need for austerity or someone is going to be very unhappy about losing their grants and other government bounty. I wonder which it is?

NB - a consortium of big retaillers is presently heavily lobbying HMG to try and stop the transfer of business rates, fearful that local councils will increase the charges so reducing the attraction of High Streets still further. As if!

Posted by: blackdog Feb 14 2017, 12:06 PM

QUOTE (On the edge @ Feb 14 2017, 11:10 AM) *
Fine. So, there is at least 48 million in the Government's safe just waiting to be spent? Being of simple mind, that must surely mean someone has been telling lies about this need for austerity or someone is going to be very unhappy about losing their grants and other government bounty. I wonder which it is?

NB - a consortium of big retaillers is presently heavily lobbying HMG to try and stop the transfer of business rates, fearful that local councils will increase the charges so reducing the attraction of High Streets still further. As if!


Not at all, it is currently being spent - what it means (or seems to mean) is that the Governement is going to have to find more savings or borrow more to make up for the loss of this revenue. The whole scheme is bizarre, it just happens that WBC look set to benefit from it.

In some places councils will be tempted to raise business rates to make up for past or future cuts in grant funding - I can't see that being necessary here (not while the Tories have control) - they could increase their budget by 25% and cut both council tax and business rates by 10%.

Not that austerity is really on the agenda any more - it is being swept under the Brexit carpet.

Posted by: On the edge Feb 14 2017, 03:36 PM

QUOTE (blackdog @ Feb 14 2017, 12:06 PM) *
Not at all, it is currently being spent - what it means (or seems to mean) is that the Governement is going to have to find more savings or borrow more to make up for the loss of this revenue. The whole scheme is bizarre, it just happens that WBC look set to benefit from it.

In some places councils will be tempted to raise business rates to make up for past or future cuts in grant funding - I can't see that being necessary here (not while the Tories have control) - they could increase their budget by 25% and cut both council tax and business rates by 10%.

Not that austerity is really on the agenda any more - it is being swept under the Brexit carpet.


Yes, another manifestation of microwave politics, ....and we throw in a free toaster.

Good analysis Blackdog, but if you can see it, so can the Treasury wonks. Do you honestly believe they'll let the likes of WBC or Newbury Two Flagpoles Town get their little mitts on anymore than the loose change. I'd hazard not even enough to pay for a p*** in the Wharf Toilets.

Posted by: user23 Feb 14 2017, 05:44 PM

QUOTE (On the edge @ Feb 14 2017, 11:10 AM) *
Fine. So, there is at least 48 million in the Government's safe just waiting to be spent? Being of simple mind, that must surely mean someone has been telling lies about this need for austerity or someone is going to be very unhappy about losing their grants and other government bounty. I wonder which it is?

NB - a consortium of big retaillers is presently heavily lobbying HMG to try and stop the transfer of business rates, fearful that local councils will increase the charges so reducing the attraction of High Streets still further. As if!
Can councils set business rates locally? I thought https://www.gov.uk/introduction-to-business-rates/how-your-rates-are-calculated.

Posted by: On the edge Feb 15 2017, 07:29 AM

QUOTE (user23 @ Feb 14 2017, 05:44 PM) *
Can councils set business rates locally? I thought https://www.gov.uk/introduction-to-business-rates/how-your-rates-are-calculated.


Yes, they are at the moment. However, the business complainants have a fear that they won't be when the Government redirects the take. There is some logic behind their fear I suppose!

Posted by: On the edge Feb 16 2017, 09:39 PM

Post truth hits Newbury

Daily Mail headline screaming about injustice to transferring business rate to Councils so that they can spend a lot more
Newbury Weekly News report says WBC are looking at making even more savage cuts.

Someone is telling porkies big time. Little wonder Joe Average has lost all faith in experts and politicians.



Posted by: user23 Feb 17 2017, 09:24 AM

QUOTE (On the edge @ Feb 16 2017, 09:39 PM) *
Post truth hits Newbury

Daily Mail headline screaming about injustice to transferring business rate to Councils so that they can spend a lot more
Newbury Weekly News report says WBC are looking at making even more savage cuts.

Someone is telling porkies big time. Little wonder Joe Average has lost all faith in experts and politicians.
I imagine they're both true.

Some businesses don't want to pay more tax which and if that happens they'll be less money for public services.

Posted by: On the edge Feb 17 2017, 09:38 AM

QUOTE (user23 @ Feb 17 2017, 09:24 AM) *
I imagine they're both true.

Some businesses don't want to pay more tax which and if that happens they'll be less money for public services.


Yes, that's right 'for the moment' and both are true. That's exactly what post truth is all about. The biggest lie, 'austerity' trumps both. How stupid that so many of us believed this Tory / LibDem untruth - cuts aren't and never were necessary. Good housekeeping yes, austerity cuts no.

(Businesses don't want to pay massively more, they've spotted the flaw, there is NO new money here)

Posted by: blackdog Feb 17 2017, 09:41 AM

QUOTE (user23 @ Feb 17 2017, 09:24 AM) *
Some businesses don't want to pay more tax which and if that happens they'll be less money for public services.

I don't think that's the case - as I understand it the total take from business rates is not going up - but the rates are changing to reflect the change in value of business properties over the last 10 years. So businesses in poorer areas where values have not risen much (or fallen) will be seeing their rates cut and businesses in places like Newbury, where values have rocketed will be paying a lot more.

They are supposed to do this rebalancing every 5 years, for some reason they skipped the last one.

WBC should apply to be part of the sweetner package pilot scheme the Govt has recently invented for Surrey's benefit and try to get to keep the business rates sooner. Then cut them back to 2016 levels.

Posted by: On the edge Feb 17 2017, 09:44 AM

QUOTE (blackdog @ Feb 17 2017, 09:41 AM) *
I don't think that's the case - as I understand it the total take from business rates is not going up - but the rates are changing to reflect the change in value of business properties over the last 10 years. So businesses in poorer areas where values have not risen much (or fallen) will be seeing their rates cut and businesses in places like Newbury, where values have rocketed will be paying a lot more.

They are supposed to do this rebalancing every 5 years, for some reason they skipped the last one.

WBC should apply to be part of the sweetner package pilot scheme the Govt has recently invented for Surrey's benefit and try to get to keep the business rates sooner. Then cut them back to 2016 levels.


Mind, with business quitting West Berkshire right now it its likely to be an own goal!

Posted by: blackdog Feb 17 2017, 04:05 PM

QUOTE (On the edge @ Feb 17 2017, 09:44 AM) *
Mind, with business quitting West Berkshire right now it its likely to be an own goal!


Bayer's departure will cost WBC about a million a year - but IKEA's arrival will make up for it!

Posted by: On the edge Feb 17 2017, 07:09 PM

QUOTE (blackdog @ Feb 17 2017, 04:05 PM) *
Bayer's departure will cost WBC about a million a year - but IKEA's arrival will make up for it!


Reading are already grumbling to the Boundary Commission....

Posted by: user23 Feb 17 2017, 07:22 PM

QUOTE (On the edge @ Feb 17 2017, 07:09 PM) *
Reading are already grumbling to the Boundary Commission....
About Ikea?

Seems unlikely.

Posted by: blackdog Feb 21 2017, 05:43 PM

QUOTE (user23 @ Feb 17 2017, 07:22 PM) *
About Ikea?

Seems unlikely.


I doubt that it is specifically about IKEA, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if they want to extend Reading's boundaries to encompass all of Calcot, Tilehurst etc. - makes more than a little sense. Would be a massive hit to WBC's income, I wonder how much they spend in those areas?

Posted by: user23 Feb 22 2017, 09:53 PM

QUOTE (blackdog @ Feb 21 2017, 05:43 PM) *
I doubt that it is specifically about IKEA, but I wouldn't be at all surprised if they want to extend Reading's boundaries to encompass all of Calcot, Tilehurst etc. - makes more than a little sense. Would be a massive hit to WBC's income, I wonder how much they spend in those areas?
In the 2011 census the population of Reading Borough was 155,700 and West Berkshire was 153,822.

Given there's almost parity in population, simply redrawing the Reading / West Berkshire boundary seems unlikely.

Posted by: On the edge Feb 22 2017, 10:41 PM

QUOTE (user23 @ Feb 22 2017, 09:53 PM) *
In the 2011 census the population of Reading Borough was 155,700 and West Berkshire was 153,822.

Given there's almost parity in population, simply redrawing the Reading / West Berkshire boundary seems unlikely.


Population is but one element.

Posted by: blackdog Feb 22 2017, 10:49 PM

QUOTE (user23 @ Feb 22 2017, 09:53 PM) *
In the 2011 census the population of Reading Borough was 155,700 and West Berkshire was 153,822.

Given there's almost parity in population, simply redrawing the Reading / West Berkshire boundary seems unlikely.

Population matters for constituencies and wards, not for local authorities. The Reading arguments will be about the self-evident fact that Calcot is part of Reading, with little or no connection to Newbury. They've been arguing for it for years, perhaps they'll get there one day.

Posted by: user23 Feb 23 2017, 08:57 PM

QUOTE (On the edge @ Feb 22 2017, 10:41 PM) *
Population is but one element.
Reading and West Berkshire are but two.

Posted by: On the edge Feb 24 2017, 06:52 AM

QUOTE (blackdog @ Feb 22 2017, 10:49 PM) *
Population matters for constituencies and wards, not for local authorities. The Reading arguments will be about the self-evident fact that Calcot is part of Reading, with little or no connection to Newbury. They've been arguing for it for years, perhaps they'll get there one day.


Quite so; and certainly with the austerity measures and some of the sillier outcomes, the cry comes up again. Local Government is an acknowledged disaster area nationwide right now and the only solutions the Government can offer right now seen to be temporary palliatives, as what's happening with commercial rates clearly demonstrates.

Posted by: On the edge Feb 24 2017, 07:43 AM

One other old call, which would would be quite sensible to resurrect right now, would be the restoration of a properly unitary County level authority and if we must, retain tightly bounded parish level councils. Whilst that wouldn't deliver any saving in operational staffs, it should eliminate much of the now unproductive and expensive middle management. In simple terms, an administrative authority for an area the size of Berkshire only needs one Director of Education, and so on. It's screamingly obvious, but then so is the reason its not even in consideration.

Posted by: blackdog Feb 24 2017, 01:37 PM

QUOTE (On the edge @ Feb 24 2017, 07:43 AM) *
One other old call, which would would be quite sensible to resurrect right now, would be the restoration of a properly unitary County level authority and if we must, retain tightly bounded parish level councils. Whilst that wouldn't deliver any saving in operational staffs, it should eliminate much of the now unproductive and expensive middle management. In simple terms, an administrative authority for an area the size of Berkshire only needs one Director of Education, and so on. It's screamingly obvious, but then so is the reason its not even in consideration.


There is a certain amount of this happening - I note, for instance, that West Berks building regulations are now handled by Wokingham. That said, the point about a 'Director of Education' is not as simple as you make out. We might for instance have a Director of Education and Children's Services in a smaller UA, but a Director of Education and a Director of Children's Service if we merged with a second UA. A bigger organistion does not necessarily have fewer staff to do the work.

Mind you with all the direction coming from Whitehall, I'm not convinced LAs have much of a role in education at all

Posted by: Simon Kirby Feb 24 2017, 07:08 PM

QUOTE (blackdog @ Feb 24 2017, 01:37 PM) *
Mind you with all the direction coming from Whitehall, I'm not convinced LAs have much of a role in education at all

Me neither. Neither am I convinced that local authorities have a role in trading standards, environmental health, social services, housing, waste collection, roads, planning, health and safety, and libraries. There is maybe a role for parish-level local government in the preparation of local plans, but the planning decisions themselves should be made exclusively by informed professionals with reference to those local plans.

The problem with local authorities is their board of management - councillors! Despite the Tory rhetoric quangos can be quite an effective way of delivering public services with national agencies working through local offices giving you local knowledge with all the benefits of economy of scale and depth of expertise, and despite the rhetoric of localism the majority of those services really require very few policy decisions, and for those that do, direct local democracy is quite possible now - we could for example be asked to vote annually on the service level for a range of services and the national agencies would then deliver those services locally to the standard agreed locally.

There'd still be a role for local political activists seeking to influence those service level choices, but it would end the nonsense of electing deciders to decide on our behalf when we're perfectly capable of deciding for ourselves.

Posted by: user23 Feb 25 2017, 12:13 PM

QUOTE (Simon Kirby @ Feb 24 2017, 07:08 PM) *
Me neither. Neither am I convinced that local authorities have a role in trading standards, environmental health, social services, housing, waste collection, roads, planning, health and safety, and libraries. There is maybe a role for parish-level local government in the preparation of local plans, but the planning decisions themselves should be made exclusively by informed professionals with reference to those local plans.

The problem with local authorities is their board of management - councillors! Despite the Tory rhetoric quangos can be quite an effective way of delivering public services with national agencies working through local offices giving you local knowledge with all the benefits of economy of scale and depth of expertise, and despite the rhetoric of localism the majority of those services really require very few policy decisions, and for those that do, direct local democracy is quite possible now - we could for example be asked to vote annually on the service level for a range of services and the national agencies would then deliver those services locally to the standard agreed locally.

There'd still be a role for local political activists seeking to influence those service level choices, but it would end the nonsense of electing deciders to decide on our behalf when we're perfectly capable of deciding for ourselves.
The opposite is happening, with local regions being able to decide more for themselves thanks to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cities_and_Local_Government_Devolution_Act_2016.

Posted by: On the edge Feb 25 2017, 05:31 PM

QUOTE (user23 @ Feb 25 2017, 12:13 PM) *
The opposite is happening, with local regions being able to decide more for themselves thanks to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cities_and_Local_Government_Devolution_Act_2016.


The secret us in the text, the words 'some' and 'combined' tend to give it away. It's really an attempt to replicate the London model in the bigger conurbations particularly in the North. WBC dead in the water, clearly even HMG see it as too small to be viable even medium term.

Anyone wanting a physical illustration of the crass silliness of the existing system simply needs to consider why in the pretend County of Berkshire, two large public parks in close proximity are managed by two separate councils operating with separate staff from separate offices. Not sure even Lewis Caroll could have dreamed that up.

Posted by: user23 Feb 26 2017, 03:37 PM

QUOTE (On the edge @ Feb 25 2017, 05:31 PM) *
The secret us in the text, the words 'some' and 'combined' tend to give it away. It's really an attempt to replicate the London model in the bigger conurbations particularly in the North. WBC dead in the water, clearly even HMG see it as too small to be viable even medium term.

Anyone wanting a physical illustration of the crass silliness of the existing system simply needs to consider why in the pretend County of Berkshire, two large public parks in close proximity are managed by two separate councils operating with separate staff from separate offices. Not sure even Lewis Caroll could have dreamed that up.
What I'm saying is, whilst you have a view local services should be managed nationally, actually the opposite is happening and more national services are being managed locally.

Posted by: Cognosco Feb 26 2017, 04:11 PM

QUOTE (user23 @ Feb 26 2017, 03:37 PM) *
What I'm saying is, whilst you have a view local services should be managed nationally, actually the opposite is happening and more national services are being managed locally.


Mismanaged? rolleyes.gif

Posted by: On the edge Feb 26 2017, 05:34 PM

QUOTE (user23 @ Feb 26 2017, 03:37 PM) *
What I'm saying is, whilst you have a view local services should be managed nationally, actually the opposite is happening and more national services are being managed locally.


Yes, that's right at the moment but for big conurbations akin to London and the Manchester area. So this doesn't solve the majority issue, the little councils like West Berkshire. Creating these regional authorities then produces a counter to the devolved regional Government in Scotland and Wales. I'm sure you'll have noticed that 'Cornwall' features in the act you copied. For this area, in good time, we might expect perhaps a Wessex region.
How would these regions deliver services; via contracted agencies.

Posted by: user23 Feb 26 2017, 06:42 PM

QUOTE (On the edge @ Feb 26 2017, 05:34 PM) *
Yes, that's right at the moment but for big conurbations akin to London and the Manchester area. So this doesn't solve the majority issue, the little councils like West Berkshire. Creating these regional authorities then produces a counter to the devolved regional Government in Scotland and Wales. I'm sure you'll have noticed that 'Cornwall' features in the act you copied. For this area, in good time, we might expect perhaps a Wessex region.
How would these regions deliver services; via contracted agencies.
You say regions would deliver services via contracted agencies, however what's actually happened in your example of Cornwall is http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/news/2439998/cornwall-council-wins-right-to-terminate-bt-contract-and-is-now-seeking-millions-in-compensation.

Do you have a link to plans for the proposed Wessex region? Bar a few crackpots on Twitter, I've not seen any serious proposals about it.

Posted by: On the edge Feb 26 2017, 07:20 PM

QUOTE (user23 @ Feb 26 2017, 06:42 PM) *
You say regions would deliver services via contracted agencies, however what's actually happened in your example of Cornwall is http://www.computing.co.uk/ctg/news/2439998/cornwall-council-wins-right-to-terminate-bt-contract-and-is-now-seeking-millions-in-compensation.

Do you have a link to plans for the proposed Wessex region? Bar a few crackpots on Twitter, I've not seen any serious proposals about it.


If you think about it; there are very good reasons why that is desperately needed in Cornwall - which has for rather long suffered in silence. Wessex is a good name for an region don't you think; but probably too small; plus as you say, the 'crackpots' have damaged the brand.

Posted by: On the edge Feb 26 2017, 07:58 PM

QUOTE (user23 @ Feb 26 2017, 03:37 PM) *
What I'm saying is, whilst you have a view local services should be managed nationally, actually the opposite is happening and more national services are being managed locally.


Just to make it clear, yes, I have a view that all local services should be delivered by single role agencies managed centrally. I'd be quite happy and would like to see more than one agency offering services meaning central management would could be of regional franchise.
And no, that isn't happening at the moment but the 'serious discomfort' of government with local arrangements today means that a radical solutions are being sought.

Posted by: Simon Kirby Feb 26 2017, 08:41 PM

QUOTE (On the edge @ Feb 26 2017, 07:58 PM) *
Just to make it clear, yes, I have a view that all local services should be delivered by single role agencies managed centrally. I'd be quite happy and would like to see more than one agency offering services meaning central management would could be of regional franchise.
And no, that isn't happening at the moment but the 'serious discomfort' of government with local arrangements today means that a radical solutions are being sought.

Local government is a mess. Take industrial accidents - some are investigated by the police, some by the Health and Safety Executive, and some by the Local Authority - all three agencies maintaining the necessary expertise and management infrastructure which could more sensibly be condensed into a single national agency. Similarly with health and welfare with the local authority, national health service, and police service all sharing confusingly overlapping responsibilities. There is a lot of scope for rationalising the provision of services between a small set of national agencies, but the opposite is happening with a variety of niff-naff like grit bins for example being devolved onto the parishes with the predictable result that some, like our own town council, are using the opportunity to expand their administrative empires.

Posted by: blackdog Feb 27 2017, 10:37 AM

QUOTE (user23 @ Feb 26 2017, 03:37 PM) *
What I'm saying is, whilst you have a view local services should be managed nationally, actually the opposite is happening and more national services are being managed locally.


Managed locally to ever stricter guidelines set centrally. That's not what I see as localism.

It's more a ploy to shift expenditure from central to local taxation.

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