Conservative Lewes District councillor Joe Miller has been quoted in the Sussex Express as saying “I …. Have a query about whether it really is the business of our local authority to be involved in the redistribution of wealth between those who have more and those who have less when it is not on the agenda of our national government.”

Either he has not heard about the government’s “levelling up” agenda, or he thinks it is just window dressing.  He would not be alone in that.

Joe Miller was talking about the decision by the co-operative alliance controlled district council to increase their share of the council tax from April, joining the Conservative controlled county council and police authority, which will also be adding to your council tax bill.  Over 70% of your council tax goes to the county.

He was referring to the decision of the district council to ditch the rule that even the very poorest must pay 20% of their council tax bill, however hard up they were.  He seems to think that they should not have done this and should have not increased council tax for the benefit of the “forgotten middle”

BLAME THE POOR

Cllr. Miller is asking people to look down rather than up. 

He would probably the rich are paying a smaller proportion of the value of their property in council tax than people in the middle.

This website records that the current(20-21) typical council tax in Lewes in band A (typically a studio flat) is £1331 per year, while for band H(for example Glynde Place)  it is £3994.  So three people in pokey studio flats pay as much council tax between them as the owner of a massive pile

There is no band higher than H.  We urgently need more bands at the higher end so that those with the broadest shoulders carry more of the load.  Central government has to do this because it has the power to set the bands.  Perhaps our MP might like to have a word.

CUTS

Cllr Miller is right when he says that there will be cuts in services even though the council tax will go up.  Most of local council income comes from central taxation via the government, and the government has consistently reduced its payments, even when coronavirus has increased their costs and diminished their income.  But the disastrous administrative merger with Eastbourne Council doesn’t help, unless you could  count staff morale falling so far because  of the merger that it is easy for the council to secure voluntary redundancy agreements in order to reduce staff numbers.  Often it seems that it is the best and most valuable staff who leave.