Well, well, well. What’s this in yesterday’s letter to Chancellor Darling from the Governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, explaining why this month’s inflation figure of 4.1% is above the government’s target rate of 2%?
It is likely that overall CPI inflation will return to target in the first half of 2009 and then move materially below it later in the year. It is possible that I will not need to write a further open letter to you in three months time. Indeed, given the short term outlook for inflation, it is quite possible that I will next need to write to you to explain why inflation has deviated by more than one percentage point below the target during 2009.
So the Bank of England says it’s likely that inflation will be 2% by March and may fall to 1% later in the year.
Why then – as The Blogger’s already been asking – is Labour boss Helen Holland proposing a council tax rise of 3.5% supposedly in line with inflation next March? Does she know something Mervyn doesn’t?
Unlikely. Although she has got the audacity to claim: “[this budget] is helping people who are going through hard times themselves by keeping the council tax increase down.”
Yes. Helen’s’s keeping it down by putting it up!
Elsewhere, through the Council House looking glass, the sheer negligence of Holland’s shitty little management regime is perfectly illustrated by an unattributed briefing to the BBC claiming that the council “is facing pressures no one predicted”.
Er, hello? Why over the last 18 months has no one at the council bothered to figure out what might be happening to our faltering economy?
Don’t we pay finance boss, Carew Reynell, a handsome six-figure salary to do this kind of thing? And don’t we pay a Chief Executive even more? In fact isn’t there supposed to be £1million a year’s worth of top management talent running the show?
And what do we get for that?An anonymous briefing claiming they can’t be expected to predict the fucking obvious.
Well, here’s a few predictions for the gormless ones:
With unemployment, nationally, heading for 2 million by Christmas and redundancies now announced at South Bristol’s largest employer, Computershare, it’s pretty bloody clear what’s going to happen next year.
Large scale unemployment; large scale bankruptcies; large scale house repossessions. Council tax revenues will fall; all other council revenue streams will fall. Benefit, social service and housing costs to rise dramatically and that’s before we even begin to look at supporting bankrupted families to stay in their own homes.
This means we need action from the council. Not fucking marketing strategies. And it’s all actually very simple.
So simple there’s no real political argument between left and right about this, although there might be an argument between out-of-touch loonies at the Council House on six-figure salaries and everybody else with a functioning brain.
The fact is the city’s budget has to balance while tax rises are completely out of the question as they will only add to peoples’ misery while defying all macro-economic sense.
That means cuts. And deep ones. The Blogger expects something in the region of 5-10% across the board (in line with every other business in the country) with contingencies for more as reality takes hold next year.
And these cuts need to be designed, agreed and implemented now. Not randomly imposed willy-nilly in the middle of next year in the midst of a social, political and financial crisis “no one predicted”.
The choices are simple too. We can continue to maintain a luxury class of arts, cycling, equalities, sustainability, regeneration, walking, healthy eating and public relations officers at £30k, £40k, £50k, £60k a year, all of them blatantly and uselessly using up valuable public money directly at the expense of the unemployed, the old, the young and any other vulnerable person in this city likely to really suffer next year as the country’s, the city’s and the council’s finances fall apart. Or not.
We could be planning to do something about this right now. Why is this so difficult for the Labour Party – of all people – to see?