Thursday, 16 February 2012

The Green Budgie

I think we're about to see the most dishonest budget proposal put to the electorate for many a year.

No. Not Labour's one. It's the Green bid to increase council tax!

That's some going when it comes to that accolade. Labour's 12 year budget record saw the council budget rocket by three times the rate of inflation and there were plenty of reasons to disagree with what they did but at least they knew what they were doing.

Filled with fire and brimstone (or more likely Dosa from Cafe Madras) Rob White declared war on Labour at the Cabinet meeting on Monday.

Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to understand the first thing about setting council budgets and has resorted to filling in the figures of a generic Green Party press release.

For starters, year on year reduction of costs is normal. You renegotiate contracts, do things in a better way, so the Green budget is for waste and inefficiency. And you know you are seeing the wool pulled over your eyes when you see the use of the dodgy insurance sales pitch "for only 87p a week". Why not be transparent and just say an extra £45 a year? It's budgeting à la wonga.com.

And their argument that an increase is okay because the poor get council tax rebates beggars belief. You know why the poor get council tax relief? It's because council tax is too bloody high. Oh. who pays for this relief? The council tax payer. Using the Green economic logic we should put up council tax by 1000% because then only the really really rich will pay it and the rest of us will all get council tax relief! Yay!

But that's not why I chuckle at their amateur half hour economics...

Their claim that 3.5% is "a lot less than inflation" is a giggle. It is if, like the Greens, you think a lot equals 0.1%. But they are being also far more dishonest than that.

The Bank of England has forecast that by the time the Green's 3.5% council tax rise would be implemented in April, it will be an above inflation increase.

In their published figures, the Green's "below" inflation increase is predicted to be twice the rate of inflation that it will be this time next year.

So if we believe their own press release that they "understand these are difficult economic times" and the Green's would set another "below" inflation rise then next year they wouldn't get their 3.5% increase, it would be 1.8%.

Under those circumstances the total extra revenue raised would be £1.97m not the £5.64m they claim.

But if the government doesn't give council's a zero percent grant in 2013/14 and a non-Green council puts council tax up by inflation only then if you recalculate the council would actually LOSE £190,000!


That means that the Greens would have no choice, despite what they say, they would be forced to set a two year above inflation increase.

Rob was pretty clear at cabinet. They don't like the Labour budget. Not just disliked, they have strongly denounced it.

So will we see them waggle their arms and legs in the air over the budget? We heard last May of how much the Green's were going to hold the council to account and have seen precious little evidence of it so far. Are they going to stick to their guns and hold out for their council tax increase?

After all they say Labour's budget is "unacceptable". That language can only mean one thing if they are not to let down their electorate. Voting any other way would be a betrayal of their principles which they have been at pains to tell to the press about this week.

Or are we going to see them walk mmeekly into the Labour group room and roll over.

I know what I'm betting on!

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