Last year’s city council Budget was all about Jason Kitcat keeping his Green group of councillors together and hanging on to his job. In the end the Green councillors voted for, against and abstained on their own Budget, and Jason Kitcat is on the way out.
So we now seem to be headed into the same farce we all went through in February, with the Greens proposing a 6% increase that would add almost £100 a year to most council tax bills.
Council tax is a regressive tax, meaning it hurts most those who can least afford to pay. For Green voters living in the city centre in comfortable jobs on above average wages, it’s not a problem. For those on the outskirts who have seen their incomes fall, their pay frozen and their debts increase, it will be a real worry. More than 11,000 people in the city, most of them in work, are now in poverty. Over 3,000 are using food banks to put food on the dinner table.
For the Green-leaning voters in the centre of Caroline Lucas’s Brighton Pavilion constituency this tax increase will be portrayed as another bold challenge to the austerity agenda. Ms Lucas and her Green council colleagues know it will never happen, being voted down at Budget Council by Labour, or by the public at a referendum costing hundreds of thousands of pounds. The benefit to Caroline Lucas is that when the cuts happen, as they will with or without a tax increase, they can wash their hands of responsibility and blame Labour for the Tory Governments actions.
Last February I said that residents were being asked to pay more in council tax to keep Jason Kitcat in his job. This time, it seems the Greens want to hit the poorest in the city with a huge tax rise just so Caroline Lucas can keep hers.