Monday, 11 May 2009

Whitehall must give West Lindsey a fairer deal and help freeze council tax

Calls to cut back on Government spin and waste to stop council tax rises

Giles McNeill today called for wasteful government spending on advertising and public sector consultants to be cut – in order to free up funds to help freeze council tax bills in Lincolnshire. Local taxpayers in Scotland have benefited from a council tax freeze yet again this year.

• Soaring council tax under Labour: Council tax in England has rocketed by 105% - or an extra £726 a year - since Labour came to power. In West Lindsey, council tax bills have risen by 111% or £798 since 1997. But Scotland is enjoying another council tax freeze this year; council tax bills are now £265 a year less in Scotland than in England on a Band D home.

• Conservatives pledge to freeze council tax: A Conservative Government would follow the Scottish example and work in partnership with local councils, giving them extra support so that they can freeze council tax bills. Over two years, new analysis shows that this would save a typical family in west Lindsey £220 in tax. The cost to central government of reducing council tax would be met by spending less on government advertising and on public sector consultants.

• Wages of spin: Despite the strain on public finances, government advertising shot up by 20% in 2008 alone. The Government is now the second biggest advertiser in the UK, just behind Procter & Gamble. Public relations, marketing and advertising now costs the taxpayer a colossal £400 million a year. Gordon Brown spent £54 million more of taxpayers’ money on advertising in his first year than Tony Blair in his last year. The Government is also planning to spend £4 billion on consultants over the next 3 years.

• Wasteful advertising: Conservatives have put together a dossier highlighting examples of wasteful advertising, including: spinning a new ‘policing pledge’ at a time when many police forces are cutting police officers; running a ‘minimum wage Battlebus’ that only tours Labour areas; designing animated cartoons to sell discredited ‘eco-towns’; export campaign adverts that run in Britain rather than abroad; and neighbourhood policing adverts explicitly intended to prop up Labour’s local elections campaign.

Giles said:
“Under Labour, council tax has soared across the country, pushing up the cost of living and hiking bills in West Lindsey by 111%. Families and pensioners facing the economic squeeze just cannot afford yet more tax rises from Gordon Brown. If Scotland can freeze council tax for its residents, so can we south of the border. It’s time to give West Lindsey residents a fairer deal.

“We can fund a freeze for hard-pressed council taxpayers by cutting Whitehall spending on government advertising and unnecessary public sector consultants. These changes will also help undo Labour’s damaging culture of spin and restore the integrity of civil servants in Whitehall.”

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