Council tax rises – and Conservative cuts

This week, the Surrey Mirror asked local politicians to comment on the question: Has the rise in council taxes affected residents in our area?  This is my response:

Simply put – yes. Council taxes for Surrey County Council, local councils and police funding have all increased, hitting the poorest hardest. Taxes for the largest Surrey mansion are just three times higher than for the smallest flat. Instead, Greens would replace council tax with land value tax – a much fairer representation of wealth.

Council taxes are again increasing (by the maximum allowed without a referendum) to cover central government funding cuts. However, despite massive reductions in services over recent years, these tax increases still won’t cover the difference. All services, from social care to youth services, will be stretched or cancelled despite the latest huge rise – we pay more and get less.

The largest increase in ‘council tax’ this year isn’t even going to councils. Surrey ‘police tax’ has risen 10% to cover 100 new staff, after huge national cuts under Home Secretary Theresa May destroyed neighbourhood policing across Surrey. Rather than tax cuts for large businesses and the richest, allowing rampant tax-dodging (up to £120 billion per year), and constant austerity, the government should be adequately funding and investing in the public services councils provide.

Surrey County Council and local councils will deflect blame for continued tax increases to lack of central government funding, but most Surrey councils are led by the very party cutting this funding. Greens would scrap council tax for progressive land value tax, but even under the current system a solution is possible.

If central government funded councils properly, we could care for all Surrey residents; be leaders on climate change; provide good public transport; tackle fuel poverty and emissions through energy efficiency; invest in children and youth centres. Councils could lead transformation to a better future in Surrey – but not if they are ideologically and financially set on more cuts.

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