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Local government :: Council tax
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We're still paying for the bankers' and capitalist crisis. The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) reckons that average household incomes, which have fallen 6% since the 2008 financial crash, were "highly unlikely" to recover to pre-crisis levels by 2015-16 because of government spending cuts and wage freezes.
The IFS did hold out a crumb of comfort to the Tories saying that better-off households had seen bigger proportionate falls in incomes than poorer ones.
However, apart from the fact that the rich are still rich, the IFS says at the same time that the poorest households have been disproportionately hammered by rampant food and energy costs which have risen 30% and 60% respectively.
The government boasts of increasing employment in an expanding economy. Of course, many of these new jobs are not higher-paid skilled manufacturing jobs but are zero-hour, temporary, low-skilled, and low-waged.
Another statistic undermining the government's rosy optimism is the huge rise in self-employment. The TUC reckons that around 540,000 of the, roughly, one million jobs created since 2008 have been self-employed.
But the majority of these are not flourishing entrepreneurs but odd-job people whose income levels have collapsed by 20% since 2006.
A Citizens Advice report says councils are allowing bailiffs to bully tenants when collecting council tax debts.
A 10% cut in government funding of local authorities has typically been passed on to low-income residents through reductions in council tax benefit. Consequently council tax arrears have soared.
The Citizens Advice survey found that 38% of those with council tax debts were charged fees for visits bailiffs never made and 40% were threatened with the removal of items that did not belong to them.
A chastened housing minister, Kris Hopkins, described a United Nations report calling for the abolition of the government's 'bedroom tax', as "misleading Marxist diatribe".
It's not a requirement to be a Marxist to criticise the tax as a vicious attack on the poorest and most vulnerable people.
Being a Marxist does, however, equip people with the ideas to overthrow his system of class-baiting millionaires.
The latest reactionary twaddle (sorry, "advice") to teachers from Michael Gove, the 'Tory libertarian' minister currently dismantling public education, is how to maintain classroom discipline.
His missive on tackling pupils' bad behaviour includes punishments such as weeding school grounds, tidying classrooms and writing lines.
Teachers have pointed out that many of the deterrents are already used and they did not need "one-size-fits-all advice".
But hang-on a moment, why not apply similar measures to errant investment bankers and greedy corporate fat cats? Get them to visit everyone whose lives have been wrecked by their 'bad behaviour' and get them to do the gardening, paint and decorate homes and deliver a hand-written apology.
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Civil service cuts (1)
Council tax (63)
Council tax (63)
Council workers (155)
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Article dated 5 February 2014
The Socialist, weekly newspaper of the Socialist Party
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