At the 2011/2012 budget setting meeting for Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) on the evening of 23.2.2011, the Liberal Democrat group voted for and welcomed the freeze in the SBC council tax – made possible by the Conservative/Liberal Democrat coalition government.
Speaking at the meeting, councillor Robin Parker, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, pointed out that the coalition government had offered all councils the opportunity to receive extra central government grant, equivalent to a 2.5% rise in the council tax, if they froze council tax at 2010/2011 levels. In the case of SBC, this amounted to £136,000 in extra grant.
Afterwards he said:
Liberal Democrats have long been very critical of the unfair council tax system, introduced by previous governments, and I welcome the extra money to ease the burden on the hard pressed council tax payers of Stevenage. SBC were right to go for this option rather than impose a larger rise and lose the £136,000. The extra £136,000 will be at the same level for the next three years, up to the end of 2014/2015. That is, a total of £544,000 extra for Stevenage.
I am also very pleased that the government are prepared to support Stevenage with an extra £84,562 each year for 6 years with the New Homes Bonus which, starting in April 2011, will match fund the additional council tax raised from new homes and properties brought back into use, with an additional amount for affordable homes. This applies to homes within the borough boundary.
The coalition government have also swept away some of the form filling-in and collection of data for government targets, imposed by the Labour government, for Whitehall bureaucrats, and this has enabled a welcome small reduction in head count – as such non-jobs invented by Labour are not, and were never, necessary.