Kids, Council Tax and other misguided policies

jimtoggleJim O’Neill says the UK Government has failed in its duty to the children of the Calais camps, and the Scottish Government has failed to deliver the reform of local government finance it has long promised.

 

I was shocked last week when Celtic played 13 year old Karamolo Dembele in their Under-20 team against Hearts. No child should be put in that position, as they have neither the physical nor emotional development to handle it. Scottish Rugby has had a rule for some years that no child can “play up” more than one age group, and they should be congratulated for it. Scottish Football should enact a similar rule. The concept that “if they are good enough they are old enough” should no longer apply. As Children’s Commissioner Tam Baillie said, “wait and see is no longer appropriate”.

On the subject of our kids, the heartlessness of the current Tory government is seen at its worst in reports that, of 400 eligible children in the Jungle refugee camp in Calais, only 72 have been allowed entry into Britain, and even they have experienced unconscionable delays. Not one  child has been allowed entry under the so-called Dubs amendment promoted by Lord Alf Dubs who benefitted from the Kindertransport from Nazi Germany to Britain. So much for the sovereign will of Parliament. It seems that the Home Office have been putting all sorts of barriers in their way, including “losing” the paperwork. This could not happen without the knowledge of ministers. And who was in charge of the Home Office through most of this time? Yes, you’ve guessed it: our new PM Theresa May.

Today the issue is even more urgent. The French have announced that they are going to bulldoze the Jungle. When they “cleared” a part of the camp earlier this year some 129 unaccompanied children went missing. Now all these other children, all of whom have a right under the Dubs amendment or the Dublin Agreement to enter Britain, are at risk. On Monday, Amber Rudd was dragged to the Commons by what was clearly a hostile question from a Conservative back-bencher to explain her actions on this. Indeed, he finished off his supplementary by saying that, if this was not resolved, Theresa May’s warm words of last week would remain just that – warm words. We must continue to highlight in Parliament and elsewhere the shocking record of this Government in abandoning these most vulnerable kids.

I also note in a report that the new submarines to be based at Faslane will be built with French steel. Clearly if these contracts had been offered to the British steel industry many Tata employers would not now be seeking alternative work. Another failed policy from the Tories.

And I was not surprised to see that, despite the warm words in Mrs May’s speech to the Tory conference, big business has triumphed over local opinion in Lancashire, where the first fracking drills have been allowed. While the 50m drills will scar the countryside, reports from America suggest that fracking has created local earthquakes, particularly in Oklahoma, and have poisoned the groundwater. Now comes the test of Sturgeon’s government. While the banning of coal gasification is welcome, I am at a loss to understand why a ban on fracking did not accompany it. Interestingly, the creation of oil from shale was the invention of Glasgow scientist, James “Paraffin” Young, who is buried in Inverkip. The Scottish Government needs now to bury fracking as well.

The decision of the relevant Holyrood committee to allow the increase in the amount paid by the top four bands of Council Tax instead of a more fundamental review of methods of paying for local government was driven through by an unholy alliance of SNP and Tory MSPs. It really only benefits the wealthiest since the top band still starts at £125,000 and those with million-pound and two-million-pound houses will pay no more than those in the lower reaches of the Band.

A fairer approach, if they wanted to keep the Council Tax, would have been to extend the number of bands, with those in the highest value houses in the new highest bracket. The current proposal shows once again the top down instincts of this government, with local councils having had no voice in setting the rates.

I believe, however, that a more fundamental change is required. Originally promoted by the Co-operative Party, Land Value Tax is becoming more mainstream and would resolve the revaluation issues that the Finance Minister is clearly so afraid of. Is this what we have suffered the Council Tax freeze, and so many fine local government staff have lost their jobs, for?

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17 thoughts on “Kids, Council Tax and other misguided policies

  1. “On the subject of our kids, the heartlessness of the current Tory government is seen at its worst in reports that, of 400 eligible children in the Jungle refugee camp in Calais, only 72 have been allowed entry into Britain, and even they have experienced unconscionable delays. Not one  child has been allowed entry under the so-called Dubs amendment promoted by Lord Alf Dubs who benefitted from the Kindertransport from Nazi Germany to Britain. So much for the sovereign will of Parliament. It seems that the Home Office have been putting all sorts of barriers in their way, including “losing” the paperwork. This could not happen without the knowledge of ministers. And who was in charge of the Home Office through most of this time? Yes, you’ve guessed it: our new PM Theresa May.”

    So in what universe are we “Better Together” with these people Jim? An Independent Scottish Government under the SNP or Labour or the Greens or even an alliance of all 3 could have let them into an Independent Scotland without the right wing fascist bureaucracy.
    Isnt this just another example of why Westminster isn’t fit to Govern over us?

    Where you expecting an institution which is at present supposed to be under investigation for the cover up of child sex abuse and murder to treat children with concern? Really?

    “I am at a loss to understand why a ban on fracking did not accompany it.”

    No you’re not you know perfectly well a total ban would have left the Scottish government open to legal action. The Scottish Government have played the fracking issue perfectly. They have no intention of allowing fracking anywhere in Scotland you know this as well as anybody does but they have no intention of having it forced on Scotland through the courts either.

    “The decision of the relevant Holyrood committee to allow the increase in the amount paid by the top four bands of Council Tax instead of a more fundamental review of methods of paying for local government was driven through by an unholy alliance of SNP and Tory MSPs. It really only benefits the wealthiest since the top band still starts at £125,000 and those with million-pound and two-million-pound houses will pay no more than those in the lower reaches of the Band.”

    I too disagree with this policy but you spoilt your own objections by stupidly claiming it benefits the rich when it clearly leaves the lowest bands out of any increase at all. I object to it on the grounds that even people with low little or even no income can own properties within the highest tax bands and so are being regressively taxed on that basis.
    I don’t know why they dropped the LIT proposal. That at least was progressive.

    “A fairer approach, if they wanted to keep the Council Tax, would have been to extend the number of bands,”

    There is nothing fair in taxing people which is not based on an ability to pay. The council tax is as disgusting and as despicable as the hated Poll tax and of course it had to be another Labour party offering.

    “I believe, however, that a more fundamental change is required. Originally promoted by the Co-operative Party, Land Value Tax”

    Another worthless proposal not based on the ability to pay. In what universe is it any different to the council tax or the fucking poll tax?

    Another nice rant Jim where the theme today is Why the fuck did anybody vote No in the Scottish Independence referendum when all that’s happened since has been nothing but miserable and painful as a direct result?

  2. Let me try and help you understand what’s going on with fracking. There is currently a moratorium in place while we await the evidence on which the final decision will be made. Were the Scottish Government to attempt a ban before that evidence was presented, they would doubtless be accused of bias and end up fighting that case through the courts and losing the bigger point there. Kezia (and you) would no doubt then accuse them of incompetence. You’ll remember Kezia? She supports Jeremy because she doesn’t support him. I’d love to see your colleagues in Modern Studies mark this particular piece of drivel.

    1. Can you explain why ScotGov can happily ban UCG without risk of court action, but can’t ban fracking without that outcome being almost certain?

      1. Nae bother. The ban on UCG was decided on the back of a commissioned report. There is not as yet a report extant on fracking. When there is, a decision will be made. If, however, that decision is made in advance of the report, it gives the silly frackers a chance to scream bias and turn the whole business into a judicial circus.
        Hope this helps you. Please feel free to consult on any other matter on which you are unclear.

        1. “There is not as yet a report extant on fracking”? Are you sure? I don’t think that’s actually true.

          1. From the Scottish government’s website;
            “In particular Mr Ewing set out that the Scottish Government will:

            • Undertake a full public consultation on unconventional oil and gas extraction

            • Commission a full public health impact assessment

            • Conduct further work into strengthen planning guidance

            • Look at further tightening of environmental regulation.”

            This will report to the national executive and we will proceed from there. I would hope it would lead to a ban. You would also no doubt be pleased with that since labour are, for the moment anyway, in favour of a ban

          2. Yes, I know the Scottish Government published that statement instead of actually banning fracking. I’m not sure why you think it proves that there are no extant reports on fracking. Nor am I sure why you think it justifies one ban but not another.

            The reality is that the Scottish Government is playing games and the obedient poodles of the SNP membership are once again going along with it because the only thing they really care about is independence.

            I am troubled by the phrasing of your final para though. You suggest that the Scottish Government will “report to the national executive” – presumably you mean of the SNP? You do realise the Scottish Government is not the SNP, and the idea that it would report to a political party’s national executive is a grotesque undemocratic aberration, yes? There is a growing, deeply unpleasant tendency in Scotland to equate party with government, and government with people. It’s what nationalism does to politics. Any decent person will resist it. I hope you will too.

  3. The million-plus mansions aren’t numerous enough to provide a substantial cash pot. E.g., Renfrewshire only has 217 top-band properties out of about 80,000. Currently, this band coughs up a total of £700,000. This is at £3200 per year each.

    You could jack it up to 50 grand a year and the revenue still wouldn’t reach £11 million. The 13,500 bottom-band properties, paying £1060 a year, provides over £14 million to the council. Oh and the top band(in Renfrewshire) starts at £212,000. The second-top band, starting at £106,000, has 3,428 properties in it. At £2637 a year, their contribution is £9 million.

    Breaking that 217 down into further bands isn’t going to raise significant money. By that, I mean the council’s overall budget is £381 million this year. Realistically, there won’t be more than a million or two raised from the top band – and that entails a tripling of their council tax bills.

    Being able to adjust the top four bands isn’t the worst bodge in the world – at least they’re not aiming at the lowest four!

    1. You don’t understand how Council Tax is set. The Council sets a budget then allocates a mid-level of Council Tax to achieve that budget. The other bands are plus or minus percentages of that. By increasing the number of bands at the top end, the mid band moves higher from D to E or F

    1. Which it can spend in the next financial year—unlike Scottish Labour which RETURNED its unspent budget.
      If you have no borrowing power then you have to err on the side of caution—the underspend is about 1% of the total budget, not so massive.

    2. Under our existing, limited powers, the Scottish government is not allowed to overspend and has to manage its resources to aim to hit a small surplus so as to ensure it does not break the law by overspending. To manage to carry over a surplus of just 1% is actually good financial management.

      I now take it you will praise the Scottish government for its effective stewardship of its resources?

  4. Calais camps, childrens sports injuries, fracking, council tax. Reading an article by Jim O’neil can sometimes leave me exhausted. But the interesting thing about Jim’s articles are the issues he prefers not to write about.
    The priority issue in UK politics is Brexit and a right wing government with no plan and without an effective opposition to hold it to account. So where is the debate on a left alliance, Jim?
    Is it not time for Scottish Labour to put the animosity behind them and get behind Nicola Sturgeon Scotlands First Minister, show a united Scottish front and help defend our interests against this dangerous Tory right wing government Scotland did not vote for.

    1. Scottish Labour pretend they cannot have a pact with an independence seeking SNP.
      They think we don’t know about their decades long understanding with the SDLP, or their coalition with Plaid.

  5. Sorry for starting another box, your last post didn’t have a reply button. You should get a job in a farmyard, Duncan, you could clutch at straws all day there. Let’s describe going through party machinery as the usual channels, then. It will still come to parliament, where you can support it, in line with your own party’s policy, unless of course Kezia does another backflip.
    Your point about knowing the difference between party, government and country is rich coming from the Lsbour party and its sense of entitlement; another example of you raising more canards than a French duck pond. If I were to bet, I would put money on the one party state being your next port of call.

    1. Where’s the ‘like’ button?

      I particularly enjoyed his ‘No True Scotsman’ fallacy at the end, I’ve never actually seen one genuinely used in an argument, so for that I’m at least grateful.

  6. the manager took full responsibility although he did not know the boy was involved but he must have known he took part in a first team training session the adult players were afraid to kick him because he was so small

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