TPA activist Grace Chen answered our recent call for action with a superb email I’d like to share. In writing to her council leader to hold them to account over lost money in the failing Icelandic banks, she wrote:
Regarding Icelandic banks, I do understand and agree with the objective of placing funds into savings accounts for the short-term. However, should Haringey Council taxes go up substantially in the future because of the misplacement of these funds into accounts which should have been suspect as 'too good to be true,' then I believe it would be arguable that the amounts saved and now possibly lost were indeed excessive funds which could have been retained by the taxpayer in previous years in terms of smaller Council tax rises or tax cuts. I certainly hope to be proved wrong and see no Council tax increases in the future due to the losses made by Haringey's poor short-term investments in Icelandic banks.
The whole Council tax concept is indeed regressive and unfair by basing rates on bubble-based house prices which often bear sharp divergence from incomes. However, if Labour is to stick to this unjust and underhanded method of local taxation, what is indeed due now is a reassessment of local tax rates due to the marked and continuing falls in house prices. Such a reassessment would again argue for lower Council tax rates for the hard-pressed taxpayer. Does the Councillor foresee such a review of local bands and rates should house prices continue to decline?
The arrogance of the Labour party towards the UK taxpayer continually astounds and angers me. While the affectation to support the poor and vulnerable is a laudable one, the reality is that Labour's astronomical and wasteful public spending, which has apparently taken public borrowing to the highest in 60 years, has instead supported and nurtured a culture of dependency on government social programs and benefits which not only underpins a mentality of under-achievement in society but has also helped to attract the excessive unskilled immigrant inflows which are now overburdening local government budgets. It has also spawned an overreaching and insidious Big Brother state comparable to China in terms of surveillance powers in what is supposedly a democratic western country respectful of human rights.
I really cannot understand why Labour fails to grasp the proven principle of tax cuts in creating economic stimulus and recognise the drag which excessive tax burdens create on taxpayers and the overall economy. Indeed, under this Government's current tax regime, I am not sure why any rational person would wish to work hard to make a higher income, start their own business, or put away savings, only to have 40% of extra income/savings stripped away at very modest threshold levels. It beggars belief that the income tax rate is allowed to jump from 20% to 40% at just under £35k, without any middle rate in between on what is really a middle class tax threshold. If there is any time to review public spending and reduce the public's tax burden by cutting wasteful and unnecessary public spending, it certainly is now when the economy is faltering and families are struggling financially.
Grace makes an excellent point – if this money lost is in reserves, then it’s not included in current spending and shouldn’t mean that council tax should rise as a result. Please keep up the lobby by writing to your council leader, as Grace has superbly done, making the point that the money lost cannot be an excuse to increase council tax in 2009.