Neil is saying that I won’t get to vote at the parliamentary elections, but will at the local level (assuming my application to get on the register is all sorted). Which doesn’t matter to me.
I’m reading Brian Taylor’s election bloog on the BBC. The latest post is on the council tax and what the SNP and Liberal Democrats want as a replacement, a local income tax (or LIT: this is the one issue that gives me pause when it comes to supporting the Lib Dems — especially since they think scrapping council tax but keeping council tax benefit is a good idea). Unfortunately, there’s something wrong with that permalink. It’s the post titled Taxing issues.
I’m thinking it’s got to be possible to determine a council tax rate based on weighting a combination of property value and an individual’s total income, because using just one variable is unfair.
(I would also then be very interested in reading councils’ accounting of the distribution of all that council tax. I don’t mind the idea of council tax as long as it is spent on maintaining the local area.)
Now there’s controversy over Council Tax Benefits. Would they be scrapped in Scotland under LIT – just as attendance allowance vanished when free personal care was brought in?
No, say the proponents, the SNP and the LibDems. Whitehall wouldn’t be so wicked or politically inept as to punish Scotland for a devolved decision.
Further, Council Tax benefit is worth some £381m annually in Scotland, paid to defray the imposition upon individuals.
The advocates of LIT want the Treasury to continue to pay this sum – but directly to the executive.
What? What would the executive be doing with this benefit from Whitehall? If the benefit is meant to, er, benefit the populace, why would a fairer and more equitable system still require extra money from London? Why is withdrawing council tax benefit branded a punishment, do they mean they see a need to be financially rewarded (not to say they would use it to line their own pockets, of course)? If Scotland’s electorate went with the independence-minded SNP, shouldn’t they be jolly well forgetting about these sorts of things?!
The claims don’t seem to add up to much. I certainly don’t believe in corrupt governments not serving their electorate and enriching themselves off the state, and I definitely have a problem with election promises involving spending without corresponding revenue generation.
Which has led me to think, if the political parties were given the theoretical exercise of starting with a blank policy and legislative slate — given the limits of the devolved parliament — what would they do? What would be their aims and targets? Once they’ve got their squeaky new policy proposals, they should then see where Scotland is now and decide how to work towards their targets. I don’t know if they do that now, since I imagine loads of them have some sort of vested interest in the current system.
PS. the Lib Dems want to introduce 24-hour licencing (and flags!) to Edinburgh. I’m not sure heavy drinking is going to necessarily lead to better science (hehe).