— Julian Bell (@juliangbell) April 6, 2013
If Bell is being a little one sided when he talks about council tax in his little leaflet he is downright lying on the flip side when he talks about Council Tax Benefit which has now become Council Tax Support. He says:
The Tory-led Government have cut council tax benefit for low income families. Until this year low income working families have had their council tax paid by the Government but from next year the Government have cut the amount of money available by 10% and told councils to cut council tax support.
The government has done no such thing. It has taken Â£2.5 million off Ealing Council and asked it to make its own mind up about what it does. This is harsh. We live in harsh times. As Liam Byrne told us: â€œ… there’s no money leftâ€. But, the Ealing Labour group has decided that this cut must be passed on. The Ealing Labour group insists that the pain must be felt.
Nine councils in London have refused to pass this cut on to residents. Five of them Conservative, none of them Labour majority councils. Tory Kensington & Chelsea, Hammersmith & Fulham, Richmond, Wandsworth and Westminster have all spared their residents this rise. People on the Vale Estate in East Acton will look enviously at their neighbours over the road in Hammersmith & Fulham and wonder why their Labour council is punishing them whilst the â€œterribleâ€ Tories next door arenâ€™t.
As it happens the Government has also allowed the council to choose to end council tax discounts for second homes and empty properties. Ealing council chose to do this (see Section 2.5, page 2) â€“ the value of this new income was – Â£2.5 million. This one change, unmentioned by Labour, would have put right the council tax benefit cut. Labour are silent on this new money.
The Ealing Labour group could have taken on their own unions and tackled the generous terms and conditions enjoyed by council staff. The 35 hour working week and long holidays enjoyed by council staff are worth about Â£13 million compared to those of many of the workers in the private sector who pay council tax.
Labour would rather inflict pain on those on benefits. I can only imagine that their intention is to use their own choice as an electoral weapon â€“ hence the leaflet. Rather like the torturer who convinces his victim that he is his friend and that if the victim gives in then he will stop jabbing him with the cattle prod. Every single Labour councillor in Ealing voted for the cattle prod. We know who you are.