Councils told they can raise council tax to meet funding deficit
Councils have been told hike council tax if they are unable to manage the cuts announced in last weeks spending round, communities secretary Eric Pickles has said.
Making his keynote speech at the Local Government Association’s annual conference, Mr Pickles told delegates he would be happy for them to raise local charges if they saw fit. He said: ‘It’s your choice. And it you want to hike council tax… fine! Just put it to the people.
‘There are local and European elections across England next year, and a general election after that. So you can hold a council tax referendum at the same time at minimal cost.’
Eric Pickles said councils could raise council tax to help manage funding cuts.
Mr Pickles rejected outright the call made by LGA chairman Sir Merrick Cockell for six central government departments to merge to form a Department for England.
‘It’s time to fire up the DeLorean, it’s Back to the Future - John Prescott’s super-empire’ Mr Pickles mocked.
He cited opinion polls recorded at the time of the now defunct Office for the Deputy Prime Minister, in which civil servants and council officers described Mr Prescott’s department as unfocused, lacking leadership and akin to a ‘pantomime horse’.
Mr Pickles also admitted that the local government budget was not settled until the Monday before last week’s Spending Review.