This week Polling cards started dropping through the letterboxes but the biggest noises after that were the Council Tax bills and the gasps of horror when opened.
All of us are wondering where the money goes, we all know it is not on the streets due to the large ever-increasing potholes from the borders to May Castle. We also know it is not going to the reduced funding for specialist needs and services and not to care workers salaries. The bin collection fiasco for Brown bins and the charges dropped to allow you have it cleaned one more time under normal council tax funds will hit you for another £30 – 40/year soon. Some councils are fighting back, thank you East Ayrshire, but it will come down to the leader of our devolved government and if she listens to the pleading of East Ayrshire Council. So this time do not blame the council blame our MSP’s.
People on low incomes, pensioners, the unemployed and furlough have limited resources and after the pandemic the unemployed numbers will rise as furlough ends and businesses close.
If you think that is an assumption then I ask you all, look at your High or Main Street or shopping centre and see the boarded up shops and local 1 or 2 person suppliers that would normally have taken our young out school into their first job and the ones boarded up so long furloughed staff will never return. The evidence is all there and we have a government doing nothing about it as the blinkered rush towards IndyRef2 is all they see.
These shops would never have been boarded up if we followed the modelling for a pandemic that was the same as Sweden. Check out excessive deaths in Sweden, 3 – 4 times less than Scotland and the UK at large and we were locked up!
These same small businesses are being hit by taxes even though they are closed and not earning, this eats into any owners reserves and at some point, the owners will say ‘I must close’, therefore more unemployed and less ‘first time jobs’ and older employees competing for those jobs as mainstream work is gone. Businesses are being hit with business rates and of course rents even though some employees are furloughed, it still has to cover overheads and they are not small debts.
So, April is a tax bill for all, you who are furloughed have a chance to pay these costs but those of you that own businesses or are in the ‘Forgotten millions’ who did not qualify for furlough or Universal Credit, sorry but you are not going to like the thump of those bills hitting the floor, much like your bank balance.
We need Reform of the government strategies and spending our money, it is not their money it is yours and I am sure, like me, you want the services you expect and a bang for your buck!
Today we saw the first of the public rallies defying the lockdown and they will increase as they are all over Europe and most of the US States. The council are our employees, if you are not happy boot them out or ask for performance reports monthly so that nothing is missed and we can jump on expenditure that goes above reasonable levels. We also need to stop the Golden handshakes and pensions (yes this is your money in taxes) going to people that’s only function seems to be billing you to live comfortably. If you pay for a service then it must be worth it.
John McCallum for REFORM