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Adam Tugwell on pensions deficits

So, if this Government can’t tax our cash out of us directly (even by stealth), they’d prefer to let someone else have a go at our bank accounts, rather than leave our money alone.

No, this is not a reference to the apparent bonanza that would-be fraudsters are about to have with our Child Benefit details, but rather the indirect way that Labour are continuing to push Council Tax up while putting the brakes on.

Like many of my Conservative colleagues around the Country with seats on local Councils, the subject of the 2008-09 Budget is probably just beginning to become a talking point at Group Meetings.

So how much say do we actually have on the amount that we can duly ask our residents to pay up for their Council Services in the coming year?

In truth, probably not a lot and as I appreciate that those of you taking the time to read the Local Gov Section on CH will be probably be very well aware of exactly what I am saying, I will not dwell on this nebulous cloud much here today.

However, raising money to pay for service provision and suchlike, even if so directed by Central Government is one thing. Paying off a pensions deficit is quite another.

Much has been said, often through the hesitant voice of British disquiet, about the Local Government Final Salary Pension Scheme. Talk about this one on the doorstep and you can almost imagine the views which will emanate at you from the local, but nonetheless tortured taxpayer.

Now, I have worked as a Local Government Officer myself and from that point of view, have to say that the idea of the Local Gov’ Pension Scheme is a tasty treat indeed, especially when you wander around, thinking happily to yourself that the cash is coming from the infinite pot of gold which the Government sits upon.

If only it were true.

We all know that Mr Prudence has risked the Pensions of many a hardworking commercial sector employee and has put almost unbearable strain on some businesses to save for a shortfall which could have been avoided. Perhaps what isn’t so very clear to many however, is the fact that some Local Government Schemes are also in deficit and have a shortfall which must be accounted for…

So, as you join up the dots on this one and think about the increase in your April Council Tax Bill, wondering to yourself just where this never ending flurry of annual inflation-busting rises comes from and trying to explain it to your voters, spare a thought for Gordon and his unending generosity…


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