AFTER numerous complaints by Herefordshire residents about council tax rises and what their council tax is spent on, Hereford Times ‘Opinion’ proposes, “A talking point for your letters next week: Council tax, are we paying too much or not enough to fund services properly?”

In my reply, I point to facts first. Council funding has in the past come largely from general national taxation revenues and partly from central government taxation, and ever since the Blair era of central government, the amounts of central government funding of council services has diminished, but that diminution has become more precipitous under post-2010 governments’ ‘austerity policies’.

The CEO of the Local Government Information Office told the Financial Times letters page last December of a 40 per cent cut in central government funding of local authorities since the 2010 general election, and, “councils will fail to meet mandates without urgent reforms”, as “councils issuing section 114 notices in 2024 will not have fallen into bankruptcy — they will have been pushed by a system not fit for purpose.”

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Chris Jarvis is leader of the Green Party group on Oxford City Council and as its treasury spokesperson is responsible for critiquing the budget proposals of the Labour administration. On a Green Left forum discussion on YouTube, “death by 1,000 cuts: the demise of local government”, around the 39 minutes of a 93 minutes recording mark he paints a grimmer picture of the central government cuts in local authority funding.

In the first decade of the post-2010 UK governments, central government funding of local authorities was cut by 60 per cent, while pots of money tied to specific projects that central government considers important divided up by central government and allocated to councils on a bids basis. There is also virtual privatisation of provisions for children’s services and temporary accommodation.

So, for starters, I would ask, “Is local democracy paying too high a price for neoliberal ‘austerity’?