Posted tagged ‘police precept’

(Local) tax needn’t be (but is) taxing

March 14, 2012

10 Points!

Like many people up and down the country we received our council tax bill this week. What was strange about it is that it was higher than last year’s bill. This was despite our local council taking their share of Eric Pickles’ council tax freeze grant and thus promising their residents a 0% increase in council tax.

So, what happened to our council tax bill?

Well, the police and fire service happened.

The Conservative Government have promised residents that they will not pay any more council tax and have emotionally blackmailed local authorities to ensure that councils mortgaged their financial future to deliver on this promise. Unfortunately, local tax is so complicated that despite Mr Pickles’ bluster it was going to be very difficult to actually freeze the amount we would all pay. Chief among those challenges was the police precept.

The police precept is a funny thing. The average member of the public would probably feel quite pleased about the cost of it; after all it is a lot smaller than the amount we pay for our local council tax. As with council tax this is all a mirage. The police precept no more pays for the police than the council tax plays for council services.

The precept is funny in many ways. Unlike other taxes it is raised not by councillors or senior politicians but by unelected police boards that supposedly represent the local community but in reality are of marginal importance in local democratic life. The Government do recognise this and the move to elected police commissioners is meant to provide some democratic accountability.