Policy announcements were fairly thin-on-the-ground this week but three, in particular, will be powerful ammunition for the campaign trail:
- Council tax is Britain’s most unpopular tax and the pledge to freeze it for two years (for those councils that make economies) will be a vote-winner. Over on the local government blog Harry Phibbs notes how Labour and Liberal councils are preparing to undermine the policy. Harry thinks we should name and shame those councils. He’s begun to do so.
- The £121m commitment to restore weekly bin collections is also a doorstep-winner. The restoration (which will be voluntary for local authorities) will be funded "by scrapping funding for a range of inspectorates, regional assemblies, Labour’s new planning superquango and forcing councils to spend less on promotion."
- It’s not a funding commitment I would have made in these ‘cupboard-is-bare’ times but there’s no doubt that Andrew Lansley’s promise of 45,000 extra single beds will be very welcome to all those millions of patients and their relatives who are deeply uncomfortable with noisy and infection-prone wards.
Hat tip to Eric Pickles for providing two of those three policies and another hat-tip to CCHQ for producing a good overview of party policies: Reconstruction, Renewal, Repair. A PDF of it is here.
This is the fourth of eight reflections on the Birmingham Conference by Tim Montgomerie. The previous looked at the suspension of green tax plans.