Today we had the final cabinet meeting of 2012 in a very stuffy room but with all the usual self-congratulation that residents have become use to from our Conservatives in Medway.
Those in the audience even spotted Cllr Les Wicks; but not surprisingly for a Cabinet meeting there was absolutely zero mention at all about our recent Primary School league table shame; not one peep from any Cabinet member. It was the elephant in the room...
The item you will be hearing a lot more about from the local Council is the appropriately termed 'Localisation of Council Tax' agenda item, or what is dubbed the Pickles Poll Tax.
The Council has to make significant savings; and as a result is being forced to remove benefits from some of the poorest and most vulnerable residents, including the disabled; it is however not remotely local because central government has ring-fenced and fiddled with the parameters so much that it leaves Medway with very little room for flexibility
The conclusion will mean some of our most vulnerable working-age residents, who have little money now, will be forced to pay even more. Indeed, the larger the family the higher the payment to the Council with in some an extra £940 per year to find next year alone; an average payment of £233 per person has been calculated. In total 14,180 residents will have to pay and the impacts will be largely felt on young women from 18-24.
Sometimes it is right to say the Conservatives do things for a reason and targeting those on benefits makes easy politics and plays a nice wedge issue with the electorate. It is cynical but the Tories on 28% are now grasping for someone to blame; it will never be their economic misjudgement of course to cut too aggressively in 2010; but the result is palpable, we are not all in this together
This policy wont help because it is economically bonkers; targeting those least able to pay and those less likely for the Council to be able to accrue the money from is not a recipe for fiscal stability or future success.
These people did not cause the recession but they are now paying for it; this at the same time millionaires are getting tax breaks and working people are being taxed by the Chancellor
The Pickles Poll tax shows you what it truly means when the Tories say we are really in this together.