I’m old enough to remember when Conservatives stood for lower taxes – but in Devon they’re raised Council Tax above inflation for the 6th year in a row, partly to put money in reserves

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At the County Council on Thursday, the Tory majority led by Cllr John Hart (right) voted for a 4.99 per cent increase in Council Tax, 3 per cent of which is to fund social care after the Government pushed the extra costs of the service onto councils, rather than provide funding from national taxation.

This is the 6th above-inflation rise in a row and brings the 6-year increase to around 30 per cent. General inflation is 0.7 per cent and public sector wages are limited to 1 per cent rises.

The Tories voted down Liberal Democrat and Independent proposals to take money from reserves to improve other services and our (the Independents’) to cancel the general rise in Council Tax (1.99 per cent) this year, in view of the 3 per cent rise for social care. Reserves are needed to deal with uncertainty about future funding, partly because the Government won’t give councils proper medium-term spending allocations. So the Government is leaving councils’ finances at risk and then getting Council Tax payers to pay more to top up councils’ bank balances to cover the risks they are helping to create!

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