If I were running a council which needed to get its finances in order, spending £350,000 on a referendum asking residents’ permission to take more of their money would not be top of my to-do list.
Remarkably this is precisely what Liverpool Mayor, Joe Anderson, wants to do.
He is proposing to raise council tax (which already stands at over £1,650 for a band D property) by a whopping ten per cent. As this is above the 3.99 per cent cap such a stonking rise, such a move would require a referendum.
Only one similar referendum has taken place, where the plan to increase council tax was rejected by a 40 percentage point margin. So, given past experience and the doubtful proposition that people want to hand the council an extra £165 every year, it seems unlikely in the extreme that turkeys are going to vote for Christmas.
Unfortunately this referendum would cost taxpayers the aforementioned £350,000 which would therefore not be spent on the front line services residents expect. Perhaps the council should resist the urge to solve every problem by demanding ever greater sums of other people’s money?
Bear in mind that Liverpool Council have already raised council tax 3 times since 2010-11 and haven’t cut it once despite many other councils managing to do so. In fact, Liverpool has hiked Council Tax by £76 since 2010 – more than any other metropolitan district.
Liverpool is not in a unique situation - every council is having to make savings (as is the nation in general) and many are clearly doing a far better job than Liverpool. Wasting money on a referendum with one possible outcome is hardly a good place to start.
Must try harder, Joe.