This is a letter from me published in the Camden New Journal on 2 April 2015.
I’ve recently been approached by neighbours confused by their council tax bill, and I thought they could do with a crowd-sourced answer.
Camden – like many councils especially Labour-run ones – have hiked council tax by 1.99%: a move backed by the sole Liberal Democrat councillor and opposed by the Conservative opposition; 1.99% is, of course, not a particularly intuitive number. It’s concocted to avoid Camden having to hold a local referendum on the increase: a requirement introduced by this government for any council increasing council tax by an “excessive” amount.
For 2015-16, the threshold for an “excessive” increase is 2% – given inflation is at 0.0%, 2% certainly sounds excessive to me. However, my neighbours’ bill plainly states the increase as 2%, not 1.99%.
Surely, doesn’t that, actually and technically, count as excessive? Labour’s hiking of council tax by 1.99% is not just unwelcome to residents trying to make ends meet, and a slap in the face when Camden Conservatives proposed a balanced budget that would have cut waste, preserved services, and reduced council tax.
It’s also, very obviously, an attempt to bend the rules to foist this higher cost of living on residents without consulting them.