Why freezing council tax costs you more

George OsborneAP

George Osborne has hardly been the bearer of great news since arriving in office. Just about the only positive thing he has been able to announce has been the freezing of council tax.

And now it emerged that this move could actually end up costing us more in the long run.

Council services cut

The reality has been laid out by the Daily Mail. The problem lies in the fact that councils aren't simply deciding to do more with less, or cut those things they never should have been doing in the first place. They aren't cutting back on the bloated pensions bill or reassessing their need for people in made-up jobs relating to social media. Instead they are cutting vital services which people will need to pay for instead - or they are finding new ways to fleece us.

It's utterly pointless the council cutting some services. We will still need someone to do them for us because they are an essential part of life, so we will simply end up paying a private company instead.

In my local borough in Westminster within less than half a mile radius, a brand new children's centre had all activities cut because of a lack of funding. Then the nursery on a run-down estate had its grant withdrawn, a drop in centre for adults with learning difficulties was closed and care services to the elderly were withdrawn.

Someone has to pay for these things when the council withdraws the cash: parents pay for private drop in services, the nursery increases its charges for cash-strapped parents, the disabled adults have to travel elsewhere or pay for private care and the elderly are forced to live without support or pay for it.

Money-making schemes

On the other hand, the number of money-making schemes being launched by councils is truly shocking. Parking charges have gone through the roof, and councils across the UK are thinking of introducing them for the first time - even in areas where the high street is struggling to compete against out of town shopping centres with free parking.

Some aren't content with charging to park in the high street and in suburban areas, especially around London, they are hiking the cost of residents' parking permits. it's not unusual now to pay the best part of £400 for the privilege of parking outside your house.

Then there are the waste schemes. Check with your local council: there is a good chance they are considering charging for certain types of waste collection - green waste from the garden is particular favourite. The councils may argue that it's a reasonable cost, but once we are charged for waste collection, many people might start to wonder what they are getting in return for paying their council tax.

Finally there are the cuts to subsidised transport, which will see fares increase across the board on some routes and go up for certain groups in particular.

So while we bask in the joy of a council tax freeze, we have to weigh it up against higher bus fares, parking charges, waste collection charges and costs for replacing lost services. There's only so far the saved £72 is going to stretch before we all end up forking out more.

So what do you think? Will you save or spend more? Do the council tax freezes work for you? Let us know in the comments.
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