Although economic growth is picking up and we are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel, most people in Grantham have faced stagnant or even falling wages in recent years.
With the prices of many household essentials rising, one of the most important things government can do is to ensure that it isn’t adding to the pressure on family finances by putting up taxes.
So it is hugely welcome that the Conservative leadership of both Lincolnshire County Council and South Kesteven District Council have decided to freeze the level of council tax in 2014.
Under Martin Hill’s leadership, LCC has frozen council tax for the last four years. And under Linda Neal’s leadership, SKDC has frozen council tax in three of the last four years.
I want to salute both leaders, and the Conservative councillors who support them, for their determination to ensure that their councils are able to cope with cuts in central government grants without putting up the taxes that working people have to pay.
Freezing council tax is a remarkable achievement in itself. But that is only part of the story, because our councils have managed to do this while minimising the cuts in the services on which local people rely.
I am proud of this Government’s record in cutting the catastrophic budget deficit that we inherited from Labour. But the truth is that we have had to rely on councils to do much of the heavy lifting.It’s only fair that most of the credit should go to elected councillors (and council officers) for working out how to deal with large cuts in government funding while maintaining the quality of essential services and for resisting the temptation to put up taxes to balance the books.
I know that many people think that it doesn’t make much difference which party you vote for at election time. “We’re all the same,” is their constant refrain. But here is a difference that really counts. If LCC and SKDC had not been led by Conservatives, council tax would have risen every year, as it did consistently under the last Labour government. So now you know. Conservatives tax you less.
As Aleksandr the Meerkat would say, “Simples!”