Any council that decides to put up its Council Tax on the basis that it is so efficient that there is no alternative must expect to have its spending scrutinised.
The Taxpayers Alliance have made the following points about Surrey County Council, a Conservative-run Council that has voted to increase the Council Tax by 2.99% and where over the past 10 years residents in have already seen their Council Tax bills increase by 72%:
- The Chief Executive at Surrey County Council received total remuneration of £253,133 in 2010/2011. There were at least 19 staff who received more than £100,000 at the authority in 2009/10.
- Councillors’ allowances at Surrey County Council cost taxpayers £1,582,000 in 2010-11.
- Taxpayers paid (via employer contributions) £32,124,000 to the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) at Surrey County Council in 2010-11, an increase of £453,000 from the previous year.
- 55 councillors in Surrey have enrolled themselves on the LGPS. Many authorities choose not to allow councillors on to the scheme, recognising the historically volunteer role of local politicians.
- The estimated cost of union officials at Surrey Council is £284,743, these are staff paid for by taxpayers but work for the trade unions. This does not include the cost of other support provided such as office space or the administration of union fees.
- Surrey Police Authority are increasing the size of their Council Tax precept, further adding to each household’s bill.
- The TPA have previously highlighted other areas of wasteful spending by Surrey County Council including articles such as ‘The cost of mobile phones’ and ‘Surrey County Council get the latest toy’. Surrey has appeared in our regular ‘Non-job of the week’ feature in: February 2011, March 2011 and August 2011.
I hope the TPA will offer a similarly useful synopsis for the other referendum dodgers. No doubt Surrey County Council will refute the validity of these examples. I have raised others even asking if Surrey was really a Socialist council despite being notionally Conservative. Naturally the Council are dismissive of any such criticisms. But how confident are they that their residents would back the Council Tax rise? Why don't they hold a referendum? Let the people decide.