Did anyone ask Newcastle council taxpayers what they want?

In Newcastle, the Sunday Sun is reporting that:

Newcastle Council has pledged to hand over the wages it saves as a result of Wednesday’s national strike – potentially up to £100,000 – to good causes.

The Tyneside decision has put the spotlight on other councils who have so far refused to offer any extra help, despite the strike action set to see them save more than £1m.

This underlines the lack of accountability in our town halls.  Lets remind ourselves why we pay tax to councils.  Newcastle City Council‘s website kindly explains:

Every year the council assesses its budget and plans what needs to be spent on the services we provide for you. When that is decided – at the end of February – we calculate how much council tax we need to help us fund the work.

Not all council services are funded by council tax, in fact only around 20% of a council budget comes from council tax. We get money from the Government, from European funds and other grants. When the tax is calculated we send out bills to everyone who has to pay, based on their circumstances at the time.

There is a principle here.  This is yet another example of a small, unaccountable group of people deciding how other peoples’ money should be spent because there is no mechanism that requires councils to refer back to taxpayers.  Some Newcastle residents might feel giving their money away to charity is a good thing, but others might feel that as they pay increasing council tax charges and experience reduced basic services, the money should be kept and taken off council tax charge next year.

Yes, it is only 1/365th of the council tax bill, which for a Band A property in Newcastle works out at £2.47 and for a Band D property equates to £3.71.  But the money was appropriated to provide services, not to be given to charities so some officials can appear virtuous.

9 Responses to “Did anyone ask Newcastle council taxpayers what they want?”

  1. 1 subrosablonde 27/11/2011 at 12:49 pm

    Surely there’s something in law which disallows this kind of largesse with taxpayers’ money.

  2. 2 Martin Brumby 27/11/2011 at 2:01 pm

    This must be Ultra Vires. If I lived in Newcastle I’d certainly write to the Chief Executive and say so and also say that you would be writing to Eric Pickles at the Department of CLG pressing for those responsible for distributing this largesse to be personally surcharged with the cost.

  3. 3 Uncle Badger 27/11/2011 at 2:54 pm

    And you can just guess whiat kind of ‘charities’ the proceeds of this crime will go to!

  4. 4 Mairin 27/11/2011 at 5:23 pm

    When OH when are the politico’s of this country going to understand it is OUR money NOT theirs, we employ them to manage our collective estate not to be benefactors so as to have another photo shoot, it really is time to call a halt on their arrogance and remind them we are the masters and they the paid workers on our behalf.

  5. 5 dave ward 28/11/2011 at 10:59 am

    It needs someone like Richard North to refuse to pay the 1/365th of his or her bill, on the grounds that services were not provided. If they contest it, point out their admission of saved wages….

  6. 6 Woodsy42 28/11/2011 at 11:24 pm

    The council surely produce a budget along with their council tax demand. Is that not a form of contract?

  7. 7 Autonomous Mind 29/11/2011 at 7:01 am

    I think I recall Richard North explaining previously that it is not a contract. Lets face it, when are we ever asked if we agree to the terms? They can change the service and the charges without any reference back to us and do so regularly.

  8. 8 Autonomous Mind 29/11/2011 at 7:03 am

    In reply to Dave, surely this is the problem. Too many of us expect someone else to make the stand for us. Unless WE ALL make a stand then little if anything will come from it.

  9. 9 Brian H 10/12/2011 at 8:42 am

    It’s interesting that Davy Crockett caught royal hell for opposing the allocation of federal funds to a war widow, despite his fully sympathy for her, on Constitutional grounds, having been convinced by a constituent that it was the opening wedge of a virtually unlimited mis-appropriation of powers by Congress.

    Which, of course, has long since occurred.

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