Millions of people around the country are facing rises in their council tax from April 2013 on the orders of Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
Eric Pickles has spent his time lecturing councillors that they have a moral duty not to increase council tax bills, whilst he has been planning a £450 million council tax bombshell of his own. But this is a bombshell that is to be paid totally by people on low incomes.
In a desperate bid to get councils blamed for this latest stealth tax, Mr Pickles has told councils that they can choose who gets the tax rise but with a huge swathe of caveats which gives people little room for movement
And even less room for movement because any decrease in benefits would co-incide with a potential increase in Council tax across the entire spectrum of people; with medium term financial forecasts in Medway Council alone looking at between a 2.5-4.0% rise in next years budget.
So not only are Councils being forced to choose between increasing council taxes on the working poor – over 740,000 working families currently benefit because their income is low - or those of the disabled or of families with young children. But these families may also be hit with the increment caused by a withdrawal of the Council Tax Freeze Grant.
In the most cruel twist, those living in the least wealthy communities will get the biggest cut.
And, just as happened with the poll tax, councils will be forced to spend a fortune chasing people on low incomes for relatively small amounts of money they simply don't have. If you think Medway and Tonbridge & Malling have big Council tax deficits now just wait until you increase the tax burden on those same people by perhaps 20-30%.
When taken together with cuts in housing benefit and working families’ tax credits and education maintenance allowances and rises in bus and train fare it is inevitable that many low income working families, who so far have continually managed to keep their heads just above water, will now lose the struggle next year.
They won’t be waving, but drowning.
The Budget killed off Nick Clegg's claim that we are all in this together. But, to see big tax cuts for millionaires and significant tax increases for those on low incomes planned to come in on the very same day next April tells us everything we need to know about whose side the coalition is on.