Norfolk’s population includes a relatively high proportion of pensioners, of which I am one, but I don’t feel we get a fair deal.
In the last 21 years, from 1997 to 2018, the state pension has doubled in value, up 102%. Unfortunately over the same period, Band D Norfolk County Council council tax has been nearly trebled, up 174%. This is like an extra £349 that pensioners have to find from somewhere. If you add in the extra cost of our Police, which has been dumped on council tax payers by cuts in central government funding, the burden on pensioners goes up to £475. NCC spending cuts since 2010 equate to another missing £1,138.
So much for the protection of a double-lock, triple-lock, or whatever other spin politicians think they can dupe pensioners with. If the state pension only keeps pace with inflation, how can vulnerable elderly people make ends meet when more and more costs are passed our way, year after year, that have nothing to do with inflation?
What value do we get for the money we pay in council tax anyway? Roads are a nightmare for motorists, and the council shirks its responsibility if your vehicle is damaged through their negligence. “Take us to court, if you think you can afford it.” Funnily enough, when NCC was first constituted in 1889, it actually maintained the county’s roads, as well as running the County Lunatic Asylum. How times have changed! Education of our young people is also underwhelming – primary schools’ rank averaged 141st out of 151 local education authorities between 2010 and 2015 and GCSEs 115 out of 151. Clearly when councillors voted through their inflation-busting 10.5% allowances increase, there could be no suggestion that it was merited on the basis of their council’s performance.
There is talk that council leader Cliff Jordan has to go after he lambasted anonymous local MPs, even though he got 72% of the vote last time. Who can better that? Maybe Vladimir, on 77%? Certainly not Sir Henry at 60%. In any case, Sir Henry would be OK on his circa £200,000 alleged yearly income from being an MP plus outside interests.
Liz Truss thinks we should pay for all local services directly, and we already pay 52% via council tax and other charges like bus fares, social care top-ups. Her idea is basically to treble what we already pay in council tax. Who will that benefit – if central government doesn’t have to fund local authorities any more, will it be more income tax cuts, inheritance tax cuts, capital gains tax cuts for the already wealthy? I imagine the rest of us will need a foodbank on every street corner, if we can’t find that extra council tax from thin air.