The Daily Mail reports that the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs believe residents would like to have higher Council Tax as this would result in cleaner streets.
The report says:
DEFRA, which tried under Gordon Brown to charge ‘pay-as-you-throw’ taxes to take household refuse away, drew up its scale of possible council tax rises on the basis of research it commissioned.
The Institute for Transport Studies, at the University of Leeds, and the Transport Studies Group at Loughborough University picked 561 people in London, Manchester and Coventry and set them questionnaires asking how much extra council tax they were prepared to pay.
The results were greeted with outrage from campaign groups, saying the litter tax scale amounted to a stealth increase to council tax.
DEFRA said that for improved litter clearance people would pay £3.95 a month for each person in a home, which amounts to £189.60 a year for a family of four.
In all, a four-person household would be willing to pay more than £900 for noticeable improvements in ten aspects of their local environment, DEFRA said.
The sum would mean a rise of almost 90 per cent on the average English council tax bill of £1,045.
The document said potential charges would be ‘assessed and reflected in the decision-making process’ and that the numbers could ‘usefully inform national decisions’.
This is quite appalling on two levels. First of all the premise of the question is flawed. It suggests a correlation between high Council Tax and clean streets.
Does Lambeth have cleaner streets than Wandsworth with it's low Council Tax? Or Slough compared to Windsor and Maidenhead? Or Kensington and Chelsea compared to Brent?
When I canvass residents in the Ravenscourt Park Ward I find that they have noticed that, since the Conservatives took over Hammersmith and Fulham Council in 2006, the Council Tax has gone down while the streets are cleaner.
If there is any correlation I would suggest that the high Council Tax councils also have the dirtiest streets. For DEFRA to be accepting the premise that high spending equates to a good service is disappointing.
Secondly, DEFRA rather prove the point by wasting £85,000 of our money on this nonsensical questions.
I have a high regard for the Environment Secretary Owen Paterson. The questions were commissioned before his time. However his Department still seems to be a complete Horlicks.