In February, the East Riding of Yorkshire Council announced a 1.5% increase in council tax for 2010/11, saying it couldn’t find anymore efficiency savings and that it was dipping into reserve funds to limit the rise. Today it is reported the council leader, Stephen Parnaby, has announced a freeze in council tax for 2011/12. He said freezing the amount people pay would be achieved through savings being made across the authority, including £10 million over the last financial year.
The last financial year was 2009/10, the year in which he said he couldn’t make anymore savings. My response is to ask if it this easy to save money, why isn’t there going to be a reduction in council tax? I have previously stated that the council is overstaffed with managers, and the scope for efficiency savings, year on year, is great. If the council didn’t waste public money by making discretionary payments to senior officers’ pension funds, then there would be more scope to reduce council tax.
I was trying to work out why these savings were not passed in the current financial year, then I realised in May 2011 the full council is up for re-election. I’m not saying this is the reason, but it doesn’t do the Tory cause any harm going into local elections on the back of a council tax freeze – or possible reduction. I’ll leave you to draw your own conclusions.