The government, in a familiar Machiavellian fashion, snuck out this week a new plan to seize more and more Council Tax from those who simply can’t, or won’t, pay. After years of locking up pensioners and other protestors, they stared defeat in the face after Derby City Council decided to write-off Josephine Rooney’s unpaid Council Tax bill. As she declared the Council weren’t getting a penny more, the Council marked the money unrecoverable and, as a result, wrote off the debt. Setting such a precedent, which could see other taxpayers withholding Council Tax increases, the Government have unveiled new plans to invade personal bank accounts to get the money come-what-may.
In a speech to the Local Government Association conference, local government minister John Healey announced plans to have the government invade personal bank accounts to get any money withheld through protest.
Healey said that it’s a matter of forcing those “who can pay, but won’t” to pay up. But this is a complete misnomer. Many Council Tax rebels I have spoken to, and campaigned with, do pay. They just refuse to pay the often extortionate increases, when we all know the money isn’t exactly going to the frontline.
We have frontline staff pegged at 2% pay increases, yet Councils splash out on whopping pay increases for Chief Executives and other pen pushers sat in Town Halls. Add onto that the all too frequent pay increases for councillors, the non-jobs and waste and you can see why some taxpayers refuse to pay the increases.
Rather than bleeding more money out of taxpayers, the solution – that everyone can see apart from the governing political class – is to find ways to cut taxes at the local level. We released a series of reports stating how Councils can cut taxes. Did they recommend a cut in services – no. In fact it’s been the TaxPayers’ Alliance who has defended weekly bin collections as the political classes fought to restrict yet another frontline service.
Should the government attempt to implement such an invasive measure to plunder the bank accounts of Council Tax protestors, it will no doubt be met with the fiercest of opposition from this end, because it simply isn’t the solution.
We’ve seen government invade our privacy, misusing anti-terrorist legislation to spy on individuals going about their daily business. Now we face seeing the government using its powers to invade bank accounts and appropriating as it sees fit. Everyone in the real world has to make careful decisions over their spending as the economy enters tough times. Government should do the same and not treat the British taxpayer as their private pot of cash.