Tag Archives: fix

Four ways Labour could fix the crisis in local council finances – but will it?

Council funding: council tax bills are only a minor element in the funding of local authorities – most of the cash comes from central government’s Aggregate External Finance (AEF) grant. It is the composition of this grant that determines whether councils can cope – or will go bankrupt.

LabourList used to be a handy source of information about the UK’s largest political party – but that was a long time ago, before the infighting over Jeremy Corbyn, and Keir Starmer’s purge of the Left.

Still, it does produce the occasional item of interest, like a recent piece about ways a Labour government might solve the Tory-caused crisis in local council funding.

Six English councils have announced effective bankruptcy since 2020, and there is said to be a £4 billion funding gap across the board.

 

“£4 billion? That’s nothing,” I hear you say. “Tories give sums like that to their buddies in return for hot air.” True. But LabourList has suggested four possible ways of improving council funding.

The big question is: which will Keir Starmer rubber-stamp? Or will he ignore the problem, like the Tory he is?

Here are the possibilities:

Proposal 1: Rework the local government needs assessment [the Fair Funding Review].

The government launched a ‘fair funding review’ in 2016, but this has not progressed since a consultation in 2018. Not having this in place in England makes it a significant outlier in the international community, gradually untethering the distribution of local government finance from local need and resource.

The Fair Funding Review should be reopened and delivered, paving the way for yearly needs assessments and longer-term funding settlements.

Proposal 2: Establish a systematic form of territorial equalisation between local authorities.

England is an outlier in not having a systematic form of territorial equalisation, that ensures solidarity and parity in needs-based revenue between location.

Germany, Italy, and Japan all utilise forms of vertical (central to local) and horizontal (between location) redistributions of major income streams (including elements of personal, company, consumption, and asset taxes) that ensure that all locations have access to sufficient resources and the ability to deliver minimum service standards.

Importantly, the funding provided through the equalisation systems in Germany, Japan and Italy is not ringfenced. This results in individual local authorities having significant discretion over the income they receive.

Proposal 3: Establish a standing commission, akin to the ‘English Devolution Council’ proposed by the Institute for Government.

Discussions between councils and the government about local financial pressures, distribution of funds, or the impact of national policies are haphazard and often adversarial. To strengthen this relationship, we propose a one-stop, statutory body to provide discussion forum for local authority representatives and the government.

Proposal 4: Develop a long-term programme exploring assigning national tax revenues to local authorities.

A fixed percentage of the revenue from one or more national taxes could be assigned to local government as a whole. Taxes that could be considered in this regard include income tax, VAT, employers’ NI, corporation tax, vehicle excise duty, and stamp duty.

The revenue could then be distributed according to the needs assessment developed in Proposal 1. This would counter the problem faced by many proposals for fiscal devolution: that richer areas raise more money, increasing inequality.

All of these ideas are based on the situation in Germany, Italy and Japan, which suggests that, perhaps, only minimal research has been done.

Still, a little is better than none at all.

But no amount of research can do any good if a government is not interested in implementing it.

And Keir Starmer is haemorrhaging votes because of his blind loyalty to Israel in that country’s brutal slaughter of innocent citizens of Gaza.

Which of the four ideas above will he implement? Well, he may not have the chance to consider any of them.

Source: Four ways Labour could fix the crisis in local council finances – LabourList


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Martin Lewis explains what people on an energy fix will pay under new price cap

Posted as a public service – and a historical record:

Have YOU donated to my crowdfunding appeal, raising funds to fight false libel claims by TV celebrities who should know better? These court cases cost a lot of money so every penny will help ensure that wealth doesn’t beat justice.

https://www.crowdjustice.com/case/mike-sivier-libel-fight/


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Conspiracy claim will drive voters away from the Tories

The Front Page of today's Mail on Sunday.

The Front Page of today’s Mail on Sunday.

Does anybody think Dudley North will remain a marginal constituency after today’s allegations about Conservative (ex-)candidate Afzal Amin?

According to the Mail on Sunday, Mr Amin encouraged the English Defence League (EDL) to announce a march against a new “mega-mosque”. The paper said he planned for the march to be scrapped so he could take credit for defusing the situation.

Mr Amin denies the claims, but the Conservative Party has stated that it is a matter of serious concern and has suspended him as a candidate.

Dudley North is currently a marginal constituency; the Parliamentary seat is held by Labour’s Ian Austin with a majority of just 649.

It seems unlikely that this will continue to be the case as voters may see the allegations as proof that sleaze is slithering back into the Conservative Party – and go back to providing majorities in the thousands for Labour.

The fact that the story has been broken by the ultra-Conservative Mail on Sunday makes it all the more convincing.

Vox Political recently reported that David Cameron was afraid to release his planned Dissolution Honours list, for fear that Conservatives he nominates might be embroiled in a scandal before polling day. This blog stated: “Clearly, corrupt and immoral behaviour among Tory MPs is expected by the Conservative leadership.”

It seems the allegations about Afzal Amin may confirm that view amongst the electorate.

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Now British Gas has cut its standard tariff – by much less than it should

150119britishgas

Gosh. British Gas is to cut household gas prices by five per cent – but this is a whopping 22 per cent less than the fall in wholesale gas prices.

The company says its 6.8 million customers will benefit by £37 over a year (that’s if the price cut remains for that long). It’s more than E.On customers (as reported here yesterday)…

… but the benefit of the wholesale price cut means British Gas will still make a whopping profit of more than £1 BILLION.

(Total profit is likely to be around £1,107,040,000).

British Gas representatives were all over the media this morning, apologising for making customers wait until February 27 before they feel the benefit; this is because the company reckons it bought the gas being used at the moment at higher, 2013-14, prices.

They should have been apologising for failing to pass on all of the wholesale cut to customers. It would have saved them very nearly £200 per year.

That kind of money is desperately needed by families feeling the pinch of the Conservative-planned cost of living crisis.

The drop will only benefit customers on British Gas’s standard and those Fix & Fall tariffs and the effect on different customers will vary.

The Labour Party, which has been campaigning for fairer energy bills for more than a year, has been (understandably) disparaging about this meagre display of largesse.

Shadow energy secretary Caroline Flint tweeted: “Wholesale gas prices down by [more than] 20%, yet gas bills only cut by 5%. Regulator must have power to make sure full savings go to all consumers.”

In a statement to the press, she added: “This shows that Ed Miliband was right to challenge the energy companies to cut their prices and pass on the falls in wholesale costs to consumers. But given gas prices have fallen by at least 20 per cent a price cut of just 5 per cent means consumers still aren’t getting the full benefit of falling wholesale prices.

“The next Labour government is committed to making big changes in our energy market: freezing energy prices until 2017 so that bills can fall but not rise, and giving the regulator the power to force energy companies to cut their prices – when wholesale costs fall – to all of their customers.”

Some have taken issue with the description of a freeze that allows prices to fall, rather than keeping them static, but this is nit-picking. We can all see that Labour is simply pushing for households to get the best deal.

What do the Conservatives want? What do the Liberal Democrats want? Only last week they showed…

They’re quite happy for the rich company bosses to keep your money.

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Is this the DWP’s latest statistics fix?

Detective work: Let's uncover the facts hidden in the DWP's latest attempt to dazzle us all with statistics.

Detective work: Let’s uncover the facts hidden in the DWP’s latest attempt to dazzle us all with statistics.

According to the DWP, and dutifully repeated by the BBC, more than 3,000 people who were subjected to the government’s benefit cap have now found work.

But have they?

This statistic – and the basis on which it is worked out – seems very suspicious to us here at Vox Political. That is why this site is appealing for anyone whose benefit cap has been removed because of it to contact us with their story.

Here’s what the DWP is saying: “Over 8,000 households who had their benefits capped have since found jobs, reduced their benefit claim, or had another change of circumstance – with 40 per cent of these finding work.”

Lord Fraud – sorry, Freud… although it seems likely that he is living up to his nickname in this case – said: “It is encouraging to see that people who have been subject to the cap are moving into work, so soon after national implementation was complete.

“Our reforms are creating an alternative to life on benefits and already we are seeing an increasing number of people changing their circumstances so they are no longer subject to the cap.”

Changing their circumstances, are they? An alternative to life on benefits – or just an alternative life on benefits?

Does anybody else recall another situation in which people were advised to change their circumstances to avoid the effect of a government benefit change?

Here’s a clue: “Jobseekers on the Work Programme are being encouraged to declare that they are self-employed – when they aren’t – in order to get more money in tax credits than they would on Jobseekers’ Allowance.”

That’s right – this site reported, almost exactly a year ago (February 4, 2013), a BBC 5 Live investigation that interviewed people who “admitted they had been told to claim tax credits as self-employed people, even when they had no feasible job ideas or could not possibly turn a profit. They said they thought it was fraud.”

Let’s look at today’s figures on the Benefit Cap. The report suggests that 3,250 households were no longer subject to the cap – the magic 40 per cent who found work – because they had “an open tax credit claim”.

It would be wrong to suggest that every single one of these households had been urged to pretend self-employment, in order to avoid the cap – and thereby make it seem that the government was getting people into work, just as with the jobseekers last year. Some of them may have started their own business and some may have started working for other people.

But did they really all manage this feat, when there are five jobseekers for every available job?

It isn’t logical, is it?

That’s why Vox Political wants to hear from you if you were told to say you were self-employed, even though you didn’t have a job, in order to evade the Benefit Cap. You won’t be identified in any future article; the aim is to establish what is really going on.

It seems likely that the DWP is committing more benefit fraud than the rest of the country combined.

Vox Political deplores benefit fraud –
especially if it is committed by the government!
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