Sunday, September 25, 2011

Salmond takes from poor to give to the rich - Rennie

A couple of years ago, research commissioned by the Liberal Democrats at Holyrood showed that the net effect of Alex Salmond's Council Tax Freeze was actually to give more to rich people than to poor people. Then leader Tavish Scott  talked about this in his speech to the Liberal Democrat Conference then:
Research I am publishing today shows that - over four years - the SNP will have spent £950m on a set of distorted priorities and hand-outs that give more to the rich than to the poor. 
Because this is what you find: 
If you have two children and earn £100,000 then you will have gained £802 per year from the SNP. 
But if you have two children and you earn £15,000 then you will have gained just six pounds and seven pence. 
So that“s enough champagne and lobster every night for the rich. 
A fish supper for the poor. 
I've been hoping for a while that our current team at Holyrood would revisit this because I can't imagine things have got any better. And they have, with leader Willie Rennie highlighting today how on one hand the SNP is cutting the social housing budget and on the other giving an almost £3,000  cash boost to the likes of the Duke of Sutherland, Brian Souter and former RBS chief Sir Fred "the shred" Goodwin. You can add stacks of premier league footballers to that list, and lawyers and doctors and some journalists. These people don't need a tax break when people are struggling to find a decent quality house they could afford.

When I worked for Willie as his constituency caseworker, by far the biggest issue people came to us with was housing. They might be desperate for a Council House but forced to pay huge private sector rents on low incomes which means that they sink further into poverty. They might be living in a horrible, damp, cold Council property which is adversely affecting their health.  Their family might have expanded meaning too many children were sharing not enough bedrooms. They may have become terminally ill and unable to cope with the stairs to their flat, leaving them housebound before it was necessary.

For many of those people, there simply wasn't enough housing. In Fife, they were only able to grant the needs of around a sixth of their housing applicants every year even with new homes being built. We're not talking about doling out luxury apartments here - just basic, watertight, warm accommodation which should be every family's right.

By continuing the Council Tax freeze at the expense of helping these people who desperately need housing, Alex Salmond is showing, sickeningly, where his priorities lie. Rennie describes him as a Robin Hood in reverse:

“In the wake of draft budget, it is time that the SNP rethought their 5 year council tax freeze given that the budget for new affordable housing has been slashed.
 “While he rewards the richest people in the largest houses with a tax cut, he has cut the money available for those who need a roof over their heads. “I just do not understand Alex Salmond’s twisted logic. He is the reverse of Robin Hood, taking from the poor and giving to the richest people in Scotland.
 “People will simply not understand, with the economy the way it is, why big spenders like Fred Goodwin, Brian Souter and the Duke of Sutherland need this tax cut. “The SNP Government must go back to the drawing board and come up with a credible budget that protects the most vulnerable in communities across Scotland, not millionaires in their mansions.”

It doesn't seem to me that the SNP is committed enough to doing something about increasing the supply of affordable housing. In contrast, the Liberal Democrats have been backing Shelter's call for bringing more empty houses back into use, as Jim Hume said last month:

“Scottish Liberal Democrats believe that bringing back empty homes into use is absolutely necessary to help quell the growing number of people languishing on waiting lists for houses in Scotland. It is totally unacceptable that people in desperate need of a house cannot get one, but, perversely, there are houses sitting empty up and down the country.
 “The Scottish Government must make tackling this an absolute priority. Ministers needs to provide answers on how they are going to provide sustainable and affordable housing for future generations in Scotland. Bringing back empty houses into use would be a start.”

There is no justification for the SNP giving more to the rich while they take to the poor. The Band H Council Tax band saves almost £3000 over the 9 years of the Council Tax freeze and those millionaires also benefit from free prescriptions and free bus travel if they're over 60 as well. When money's tight, we need to make sure that the poorest are our first priority. Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander have made sure the Westminster Coalition has not adopted the Tory policies of an Inheritance Tax cut and marriage tax break. They have made it clear that the 50p tax rate is here to stay, while taking nearly a million low paid people out of tax completely.

I hope John Swinney looks at this again. Unfortunately, with an overall majority, the SNP are sure to get their budget through so we're reliant on them seeing sense. I won't be holding my breath.


cynicalHighlander said...

What no link to the report, surprise surprise.

Obviously Willie is still following the media spokesperson who admitted that the LibDems would get little media attention unless they attacked the SNP.

Bob said...

So you want council tax to go up Caron ? Don't you think that when your party is in a hole you should stop digging ? Do you really want a total wipeout of the Lib Dems in Scotland ? You will be pushing for tuition fees in Scotland next. I don't think that policy did you any favours in England ;)

"Their family might have expanded meaning too many children were sharing not enough bedrooms"

Here's a novel idea. How about having more children when you can afford to pay for them rather than dumping the cost on the taxpayers ?

Caron said...

What report do you want a link to, CH?

Bob, family circumstances change, sometimes people with children get together, or have children come and live with them, or, sometimes, children just come along. They shouldn't suffer and there should be enough social housing to go around.

I think councils should control what happens to council tax, not the Holyrood Government.

Bob said...

Councils are champing at the bit to let rip with council tax increases. They're being held back by the SNP. Do you not think we're getting hammered enough with increasing fuel and food and petrol etc without more taxes ? It's about £120 a year in Spain for council tax and I used to get my bins emptied daily.
Oh and councils are guilty of fraudulently claiming fees for 'phantom' visits by bailiffs..

Another scam by our benevolent councils.

As to housing, there are thousands of 'families' having as many children as they like because our system is designed to favour this attitude. Dundee has the highest number of teen pregnancies in Europe because kids know their best chance to jump the queue for a house is to get pregnant. If they want a bigger house then it's best to have more kids. All paid for by a dwindling number of private sector taxpayers.
Do you live inside some sort of bubble ?


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