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.