The suggestion today, emanating from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, that council tax for band D properties could be cut by £20 per annum, funded by the abolition of the second home discount, is the sort of stupidity that I have grown accustomed to from the blue wing of the glorious Coalition (although the yellow wing isn't exempt from criticism either).
What is a very good story - the abolition of the second home discount on council tax - is utterly ruined by an undeliverable promise of individual savings. Why do I say that?
- Second homes are concentrated in a relatively small number of authorities. For example, Cornwall has lots. Mid Suffolk has very few. Therefore, there will potentially be quite a lot of extra money available to Cornwall and other such authorities, and not much for the rest.
- Actually, band D is the median band, relative to which all other band levels of council tax are set. In Suffolk, more people live in properties in band B, which reduces the likely benefit further.
I'm sure that Eric Pickles would like to think that we're all so utterly selfish that £20 (maybe) in our pockets trumps our desire to protect local services, but perhaps using the extra income to reduce the level of cuts might be more appropriate? Perhaps, applying the logic of localism which, I accept, Eric has tortured almost beyond recognition, leaving it to local people to decide how to use the additional income would be more logical than a central edict.
Of course, if I was campaigning against my local Conservatives, I'd be thinking about a leaflet asking Mid Suffolk District Council where my £20 was...