Eric Pickles steps up his council tax war with local authorities

The Northern Echo: Eric Pickles Eric Pickles

FEW town halls in the region have agreed to freeze council tax next year - putting them at risk of financial 'punishment' by the government.

Eric Pickles, the Communities Secretary, today (Monday, January 28) stepped up his war with local authorities, by accusing those planning tax hikes of "cheating" hard-working taxpayers.

And he vowed to get tough with any "democracy dodgers", thinking of increasing council tax by slightly less than two per cent - the threshold for requiring a 'yes' vote in a local referendum.

Mr Pickles said: "We will take into consideration anybody cheating their taxpayers. Anybody using loop holes will lose out next year."

Only 115 of 351 local authorities in England - fewer than one third - have agreed to take up the government's offer of 'help' to freeze bills in 2013-14, so far.

They include North Yorkshire County Council and three district authorities in North Yorkshire - Harrogate, Ryedale and Scarborough.

But, in the North-East, only Newcastle and North Tyneside have fallen into line, according to the department for communities and local government (DCLG).

Last year, four councils - Darlington, Middlesbrough, Redcar and Cleveland and Stockton - defied Mr Pickles with rises of 3.5 per cent, when the referendum trigger was higher.

Darlington Council will meet on Thursday to discuss its plans. Last month, its Labour leader, Bill Dixon, hinted at a further rise, when he warned of a £18m 'black hole' in its budget, in the coming years.

Durham County can be expected to freeze its bills - having done so for the last two years - but is not due to make a decision until next month.

In addition, no police or fire authorities in the North-East or North Yorkshire have announced a freeze in their precepts for 2013-14, although some have elsewhere in the country.

The problem for town halls opting for a freeze is that they will receive a Whitehall grant equivalent to just a one per cent rise in council tax – far less than the 2.5 per cent on offer in 2011-12 and 2012-13.

With inflation above two per cent, that means a real-terms cut in funding - and possible further cuts to services. Durham will have to find £2m to fund a council tax freeze.

No council is likely to opt for a rise above two per cent, because of the likelihood of losing any referendum - at a cost of up to £250,000.

But, today, Mr Pickles said even those planning increases below the two per cent trigger should "ask permission first".

He added: "They have to man up. Be straight with people. Take them into their confidence. If the public believes you’ve got a sensible case, they might well listen."

More Darlington Borough Council News

More Durham County Council News

Comments (10)

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9:03pm Mon 28 Jan 13

Voice-of-reality says...

The money belongs to us the taxpayers not the councillors. Householders have to budget and cannot just continue spending they do do not have. Households have to make economies. Pickles is right - the taxpayer must be protected and the councils must stop regarding taxpayers as a bottomless purse through which to finance their 'essential' schemes and visions (one thinks of the bridge in Chester - le - street as an example. If the councils will not curb their spending them a higher body must and that must accordingly be central government. Whether or not the financial settlement has benefited the north or south more this year is irrelevant - all sectors and people are having to cut costs - councils should do the same. Well done Pickles.
The money belongs to us the taxpayers not the councillors. Householders have to budget and cannot just continue spending they do do not have. Households have to make economies. Pickles is right - the taxpayer must be protected and the councils must stop regarding taxpayers as a bottomless purse through which to finance their 'essential' schemes and visions (one thinks of the bridge in Chester - le - street as an example. If the councils will not curb their spending them a higher body must and that must accordingly be central government. Whether or not the financial settlement has benefited the north or south more this year is irrelevant - all sectors and people are having to cut costs - councils should do the same. Well done Pickles. Voice-of-reality
  • Score: 0

10:47pm Mon 28 Jan 13

Disgruntled* says...

I am on a pay freeze for the fourth year in a row but everything else keeps going up and up. Where do the government expect us to find the extra money each month???
I am on a pay freeze for the fourth year in a row but everything else keeps going up and up. Where do the government expect us to find the extra money each month??? Disgruntled*
  • Score: 0

10:53pm Mon 28 Jan 13

Voice-of-reality says...

Precisely my point. It is not the government expecting you to find more money (they are trying to cap the rise). On this, the fault is not with the government but with the councils. It is the socialists in control of councils in the north that do not know how to stop spending and will not stop spending. And the people who will have the pay - the already hard-up tax payers.
Precisely my point. It is not the government expecting you to find more money (they are trying to cap the rise). On this, the fault is not with the government but with the councils. It is the socialists in control of councils in the north that do not know how to stop spending and will not stop spending. And the people who will have the pay - the already hard-up tax payers. Voice-of-reality
  • Score: 0

12:09am Tue 29 Jan 13

stevegg says...

Voice-of-reality wrote:
Precisely my point. It is not the government expecting you to find more money (they are trying to cap the rise). On this, the fault is not with the government but with the councils. It is the socialists in control of councils in the north that do not know how to stop spending and will not stop spending. And the people who will have the pay - the already hard-up tax payers.
Exactly right. This is what happens when councils have been used to decades of no cap on public spending and any shortfall was made up through the council tax payer to fund their grandoise plans. Councils are now having to make some harsh decisions and they dont like it now the endless supply of money is not available to them. No council taxpayer in their right mind will vote an increase above 2% when most are on pay freezes and are struggling to live within their means. Eric Pickles is right in what he says that they should be open and up front about what their doing, public spending was out of control and needs to be reined in. Welcome to the real world and spend within your limits, make internal savings from within the STILL overstaffed/overpaid council heirachy.
[quote][p][bold]Voice-of-reality[/bold] wrote: Precisely my point. It is not the government expecting you to find more money (they are trying to cap the rise). On this, the fault is not with the government but with the councils. It is the socialists in control of councils in the north that do not know how to stop spending and will not stop spending. And the people who will have the pay - the already hard-up tax payers.[/p][/quote]Exactly right. This is what happens when councils have been used to decades of no cap on public spending and any shortfall was made up through the council tax payer to fund their grandoise plans. Councils are now having to make some harsh decisions and they dont like it now the endless supply of money is not available to them. No council taxpayer in their right mind will vote an increase above 2% when most are on pay freezes and are struggling to live within their means. Eric Pickles is right in what he says that they should be open and up front about what their doing, public spending was out of control and needs to be reined in. Welcome to the real world and spend within your limits, make internal savings from within the STILL overstaffed/overpaid council heirachy. stevegg
  • Score: 0

1:02am Tue 29 Jan 13

Spy Boy says...

I don't like Pickles, he comes over as a bully, but a lot of what he says in this context is correct. I still can't see why our council are pushing ahead with so many hugely expensive plans such as the latest fiasco of changing the 'almost a ringroad' yet again, less than 5 years on from the last re-positioning. This council is wasting our money every day and the people who suffer are the council employees that are being made redundant and those on pay freezes and basic rates of pay. None of the ruling elite have taken a hit, so there's a couple of million right there over the next 3 years and that's not including alll the money they are going to cost us with their bad planning and lack of vision. They need a major shake-up. They have been hanging on to power for so long they have lost the plot. They just can't see outside the box any more. They seem intent on dragging us all into a hole along with them. They'll have the means to extract themselves though. It's rather like the Titanic, they'll all have a place in the lifeboat, so they're not going to buy more boats for us. We'll go down without trace while they are off sunning themselves on their little nest eggs and golden handshakes.

It's now up to the voters of this town to see exactly what needs to be done to rid ourselves of these dangerous clowns. Don't even bother about their so-called political affiliations, they don't care which party they're with as long as it's the party the ratepayers vote for. Their arrogance will take them down, but it's taking too long and we're suffering.

They insist on making wrong calls on everythingthat they do. It's all overspend and overbudget. Have you ever thought why they are running up these huge bills in our name ? Do you want to keep paying more and getting less, all because they are making promises we can't afford to keep. They are bleeding us white and laughing all the way to the bank with their huge salaries and expense accounts.

They say that it's better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness. There's my candle lit. How about all the people of Darlington light a candle too. We may find illumination at last. If you think things are bad now, just wait a year and see them hit rock bottom. Act now. The government is crippling us and even our local council is screwing us. If it doesn't change soon, last years riots will look puny to what will happen. People can only take so much before they finally sit up and notice.
I don't like Pickles, he comes over as a bully, but a lot of what he says in this context is correct. I still can't see why our council are pushing ahead with so many hugely expensive plans such as the latest fiasco of changing the 'almost a ringroad' yet again, less than 5 years on from the last re-positioning. This council is wasting our money every day and the people who suffer are the council employees that are being made redundant and those on pay freezes and basic rates of pay. None of the ruling elite have taken a hit, so there's a couple of million right there over the next 3 years and that's not including alll the money they are going to cost us with their bad planning and lack of vision. They need a major shake-up. They have been hanging on to power for so long they have lost the plot. They just can't see outside the box any more. They seem intent on dragging us all into a hole along with them. They'll have the means to extract themselves though. It's rather like the Titanic, they'll all have a place in the lifeboat, so they're not going to buy more boats for us. We'll go down without trace while they are off sunning themselves on their little nest eggs and golden handshakes. It's now up to the voters of this town to see exactly what needs to be done to rid ourselves of these dangerous clowns. Don't even bother about their so-called political affiliations, they don't care which party they're with as long as it's the party the ratepayers vote for. Their arrogance will take them down, but it's taking too long and we're suffering. They insist on making wrong calls on everythingthat they do. It's all overspend and overbudget. Have you ever thought why they are running up these huge bills in our name ? Do you want to keep paying more and getting less, all because they are making promises we can't afford to keep. They are bleeding us white and laughing all the way to the bank with their huge salaries and expense accounts. They say that it's better to light a single candle than to curse the darkness. There's my candle lit. How about all the people of Darlington light a candle too. We may find illumination at last. If you think things are bad now, just wait a year and see them hit rock bottom. Act now. The government is crippling us and even our local council is screwing us. If it doesn't change soon, last years riots will look puny to what will happen. People can only take so much before they finally sit up and notice. Spy Boy
  • Score: 0

10:51am Tue 29 Jan 13

stevegg says...

If the council is in such dire straights why are they not using the tens of millions they have secreted in bank accounts that they have squirilled away in the years of plenty making huge sums in interest. If now is not the time to dip into those reserves then when is?????
If the council is in such dire straights why are they not using the tens of millions they have secreted in bank accounts that they have squirilled away in the years of plenty making huge sums in interest. If now is not the time to dip into those reserves then when is????? stevegg
  • Score: 0

12:22pm Tue 29 Jan 13

simmo707 says...

BROKEN BRITAIN UNDER TORIES – THE GREY VOTE OAP’s
PENSIONERS outnumber any other type of voter even by race ,religion or age .WHEN ARE PENSIONERS GOING TO WAKE UP ! WE HAVE THE POWER TO SHAPE LEGISLATION – all we need is the willpower to do so .
POLITICIANS PAY ATTENTION ! Entitlement my arse ,I have paid good money for my State Pension and other Benefits ,just because you’ve borrowed that money it doesn’t make my Benefits some sort of CHARITY or HANDOUT .Gold plated pensions for MP’s and Civil Servants plus other benefits – free health care ,outrageous retirement packages ,67 paid holidays ,20 weeks paid vacation and unlimited paid sick leave .THATS WELFARE ! And you have the nerve to call me a GREEDY PENSIONER and my retirement an entitlement .
We are supposed to be broke and can’t help our own Pensioners ,the Vulnerable ,the Sick ,Vetrans ,homeless ect but spend £1.2 billion for G20 events .Billions on Illegal WARS and still have money to interfere in others domestic stuations .In the last few months we have spent Billions on foreign aid .Our retiree’s live on a fixed income and they call OLD AGE SECURITY and HEALTHCARE an entitlement even though most of us have been paying for it all our working lives and now through successive Governments incompetence when it’s time to collect were told the coffers are bare .Anything to do with Brown robbing the PENSION FUND of £5 billion .
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD….PROTEST LOUD AND CLEAR ,SPREAD THE WORD .
www.brokenbritainund
ertories.com
BROKEN BRITAIN UNDER TORIES – THE GREY VOTE OAP’s PENSIONERS outnumber any other type of voter even by race ,religion or age .WHEN ARE PENSIONERS GOING TO WAKE UP ! WE HAVE THE POWER TO SHAPE LEGISLATION – all we need is the willpower to do so . POLITICIANS PAY ATTENTION ! Entitlement my arse ,I have paid good money for my State Pension and other Benefits ,just because you’ve borrowed that money it doesn’t make my Benefits some sort of CHARITY or HANDOUT .Gold plated pensions for MP’s and Civil Servants plus other benefits – free health care ,outrageous retirement packages ,67 paid holidays ,20 weeks paid vacation and unlimited paid sick leave .THATS WELFARE ! And you have the nerve to call me a GREEDY PENSIONER and my retirement an entitlement . We are supposed to be broke and can’t help our own Pensioners ,the Vulnerable ,the Sick ,Vetrans ,homeless ect but spend £1.2 billion for G20 events .Billions on Illegal WARS and still have money to interfere in others domestic stuations .In the last few months we have spent Billions on foreign aid .Our retiree’s live on a fixed income and they call OLD AGE SECURITY and HEALTHCARE an entitlement even though most of us have been paying for it all our working lives and now through successive Governments incompetence when it’s time to collect were told the coffers are bare .Anything to do with Brown robbing the PENSION FUND of £5 billion . MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD….PROTEST LOUD AND CLEAR ,SPREAD THE WORD . www.brokenbritainund ertories.com simmo707
  • Score: 0

3:36pm Tue 29 Jan 13

johnny_p says...

simmo707 wrote:
BROKEN BRITAIN UNDER TORIES – THE GREY VOTE OAP’s
PENSIONERS outnumber any other type of voter even by race ,religion or age .WHEN ARE PENSIONERS GOING TO WAKE UP ! WE HAVE THE POWER TO SHAPE LEGISLATION – all we need is the willpower to do so .
POLITICIANS PAY ATTENTION ! Entitlement my arse ,I have paid good money for my State Pension and other Benefits ,just because you’ve borrowed that money it doesn’t make my Benefits some sort of CHARITY or HANDOUT .Gold plated pensions for MP’s and Civil Servants plus other benefits – free health care ,outrageous retirement packages ,67 paid holidays ,20 weeks paid vacation and unlimited paid sick leave .THATS WELFARE ! And you have the nerve to call me a GREEDY PENSIONER and my retirement an entitlement .
We are supposed to be broke and can’t help our own Pensioners ,the Vulnerable ,the Sick ,Vetrans ,homeless ect but spend £1.2 billion for G20 events .Billions on Illegal WARS and still have money to interfere in others domestic stuations .In the last few months we have spent Billions on foreign aid .Our retiree’s live on a fixed income and they call OLD AGE SECURITY and HEALTHCARE an entitlement even though most of us have been paying for it all our working lives and now through successive Governments incompetence when it’s time to collect were told the coffers are bare .Anything to do with Brown robbing the PENSION FUND of £5 billion .
MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD….PROTEST LOUD AND CLEAR ,SPREAD THE WORD .
www.brokenbritainund

ertories.com
Pathetic copy and paste.......
[quote][p][bold]simmo707[/bold] wrote: BROKEN BRITAIN UNDER TORIES – THE GREY VOTE OAP’s PENSIONERS outnumber any other type of voter even by race ,religion or age .WHEN ARE PENSIONERS GOING TO WAKE UP ! WE HAVE THE POWER TO SHAPE LEGISLATION – all we need is the willpower to do so . POLITICIANS PAY ATTENTION ! Entitlement my arse ,I have paid good money for my State Pension and other Benefits ,just because you’ve borrowed that money it doesn’t make my Benefits some sort of CHARITY or HANDOUT .Gold plated pensions for MP’s and Civil Servants plus other benefits – free health care ,outrageous retirement packages ,67 paid holidays ,20 weeks paid vacation and unlimited paid sick leave .THATS WELFARE ! And you have the nerve to call me a GREEDY PENSIONER and my retirement an entitlement . We are supposed to be broke and can’t help our own Pensioners ,the Vulnerable ,the Sick ,Vetrans ,homeless ect but spend £1.2 billion for G20 events .Billions on Illegal WARS and still have money to interfere in others domestic stuations .In the last few months we have spent Billions on foreign aid .Our retiree’s live on a fixed income and they call OLD AGE SECURITY and HEALTHCARE an entitlement even though most of us have been paying for it all our working lives and now through successive Governments incompetence when it’s time to collect were told the coffers are bare .Anything to do with Brown robbing the PENSION FUND of £5 billion . MAKE YOUR VOICE HEARD….PROTEST LOUD AND CLEAR ,SPREAD THE WORD . www.brokenbritainund ertories.com[/p][/quote]Pathetic copy and paste....... johnny_p
  • Score: 0

3:50pm Tue 29 Jan 13

st-george1 says...

Go after them all Mr Pickles .… all this is just another scandal at the heart of democracy … Civilisation VERSUS Anarchy, a familiar cry in Labour heartland !
Its time to sort out the DISRESPECTFUL behaviour and lack of manners at Labour dominated councils … yes I’m talking about Marxist people masquerading as councillors who use politically motivated reasons for doing AND not doing things and here in the North East where we are accustomed to hearing of public sector misconduct, political conspiracies, lies, ignorance and cover-ups at the expense of the taxpayers … WE should all be worried !
Labour is the Party that always betrays the most vulnerable in our society and creates a less equal society and the fact that so many are still voting for Labour Governments and Labours Councillors who betrayed Britain, IS a terrible indictment upon what we are now !
..
Go after them all Mr Pickles .… all this is just another scandal at the heart of democracy … Civilisation VERSUS Anarchy, a familiar cry in Labour heartland ! Its time to sort out the DISRESPECTFUL behaviour and lack of manners at Labour dominated councils … yes I’m talking about Marxist people masquerading as councillors who use politically motivated reasons for doing AND not doing things and here in the North East where we are accustomed to hearing of public sector misconduct, political conspiracies, lies, ignorance and cover-ups at the expense of the taxpayers … WE should all be worried ! Labour is the Party that always betrays the most vulnerable in our society and creates a less equal society and the fact that so many are still voting for Labour Governments and Labours Councillors who betrayed Britain, IS a terrible indictment upon what we are now ! .. st-george1
  • Score: 0

5:11pm Tue 29 Jan 13

Jaga says...

Our delightful Socialist councils clearly need help on how to control, or better still, cut Council Tax. May I suggest that they contact the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council, and ask them how they are managing to cut their Council Tax for the fourth year in a row. I don't suppose that any contact will be made. Socialist politicians love running out of other people's money.
Our delightful Socialist councils clearly need help on how to control, or better still, cut Council Tax. May I suggest that they contact the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead Council, and ask them how they are managing to cut their Council Tax for the fourth year in a row. I don't suppose that any contact will be made. Socialist politicians love running out of other people's money. Jaga
  • Score: 0

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