Wednesday, October 01, 2008

George Osborne: catchy slogans, 100% hot air

For God's sake, can't someone persuade David Cameron to ditch the intern and get someone who understands economics as his Shadow Chancellor? Fair enough, he does clearly recognise good spin when he sees it, but surely even Dave can spot the hypocrisy of his party's position on tax and spending?

A freeze on council tax? Sounds great, until you realise what is actually on offer. Councils will be allowed to increase spending by 2.5% and will have the entire increase funded by central government. Now, let's see if I've got this right. I will not pay more council tax but will pay more tax to cover the increased central government contribution. Not smoke and mirrors at all then...

Oh yes, and it's entirely inconsistent with Conservative talk of localism. No right for a local council to spend more if they need to, so clearly a means to introduce still more stringent capping. Whereas for efficient councils, it provides an incentive to spend more money, not less, as the funds are coming from central government.

It isn't a stealth tax either, is it, as it replaces a charge that I can see, receive an explanation of, and can punish the council for, with a subvention from a large faceless budget administered by civil servants who have no accountability to a formula which is even less transparent than the answer to the Schleswig-Holstein question.

Of course, there will be cuts to make up for it all, I'm sure. The emphasis on 'hard working families' makes it abundantly clear that, if you're single, or childless, or poor, there is little on offer. The poor won't benefit, as their council tax is paid for by the state. The elderly will continue to suffer from the death by a thousand cuts that is the likely fate of social care. Those amongst us who are single will lose out through the introduction of bribes to become, or stay, married.

I loathe this government, and most of its recent works. However, I don't see why I should go quietly in a transition from a bunch of big government, authoritarian control freaks to a bunch of socially reactionary, hypocritical control freaks. My only hope is that the Conservatives get exposed for what they really are...

2 comments:

Jennie said...

What you said.

Oranjepan said...

Osborne somehow "contrives to be derigiste and spendthrift at the same time,"...
"The freeze on council tax is... a costly, centralising, vote-grabbing gimmick, which is perhaps why it is just for two years."

According to Simon Jenkins!