These two images above, both come from two Conservative Government Ministers speaking to the public and to local politicians, both referring to the same local tax arrangements. Back in 2012 Eric Pickles was working very hard to ensure that the local Council tax and the Police precept was frozen, he eventually allowed a 1% increase as an absolute maximum and anything beyond that would require a local referendum! The impact of that meant that all of the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioners promised that they would not increase local police precepts, and indeed many like the Sussex PCC, Katy Bourne claimed that funding did not need to be increased because in her words she was capable of making Sussex Police more efficient. This year Kit Malthouse who is the Minister responsible for Policing in the Government and was previously Boris Johnsons equivalent to the Police and Crime Commissioner for London is saying something very different. And surprise surprise the Conservative PCCs are now all saying the same thing, or rather the opposite thing to what they and their predecessors said 8 years ago. The challenge we have here is that not only has the Conservative Party done a total U turn, but their comments a few weeks ago in the latest party manifesto also appear to have made very different claims to what Malthouse is now saying. The manifesto stated:
“My Guarantee – We will not raise the rate of income tax, VAT or National Insurance” wrote Boris Johnson, which did not of course refer to Council Tax directly, however later on in the document “We are proud that Conservative councils have led the way in helping keep council taxes low…..Local people will continue to have the final say on council tax, being able to veto excessive rises. This does not prevent councils raising more – but it does ensure that they will need to have solid and convincing reasons for doing so.”
It appears as if the Conservative Party are prepared to make all sorts of claims that they then feel free to reverse whenever it suits them. This statement by Kit Malthouse is the solid and convincing reason for Tory PCCs to do what he has told them. It would appear as if whatever people like Malthouse and Pickles demands is what these party political PCCs will then set out as their priorities. Surely Police and Crime Commissioners and even local Councils need to become Independent of the Government and this demands that they are disconnected from Political Parties, particularly the one in Government or else our decisions are superficial at best, once we have voted in a General Election!