Council Tax is to increase by 4.95 per cent. That’s almost double the rate of inflation, currently three per cent, against a background of static or reducing wages.
According to Louise Goldsmith, Leader of the WSCC Conservative administration, vital services will be at risk if the increases are not made and she calls on the Conservative Government to take a long term view of Local Authority funding.
Yet despite having a Conservative Government and Conservative controlled County and District Councils, most core services in West Sussex remain significantly underfunded – education, social care, social housing, police, fire and rescue, transport and waste management etc.
This is hardly evidence of fiscal competence that the Conservative Party tries to portray, despite their having been in Government for eight years and run WSCC for all bar five of the last 100-plus years.
Yet it is what the electorate have been given by the Conservatives at all levels of Government.
The Prime Minister says “there is no Magic Money Tree” but then found £1 billion additional funding for Northern Ireland to encourage the DUP to support her administration and then commits to paying £40 billion to the EU for BREXIT to appease her Right Wing and the 37 per cent of those entitled to vote who voted Leave in an Advisory Referendum.
Meanwhile the £ has devalued by some 20 per cent against most major currencies, increasing costs of imported raw materials and foods, so fuelling inflation and leaving our economy as the worst performing of the G7 Nations.
All of which increases pressure on the Treasury to reduce spending, feeding into increased Council Tax.
Yet the situation need not be like that. If we had a progressive Government with real vision, focused on economic growth and social cohesion, investing in the NHS, housing and stimulating the economy through targeted infrastructure investment.
One that committed to work with the EU and internationally to increase opportunity, secure peace, prosperity and influence .
In short, one that was not fixated on achieving BREXIT at all costs with all that that means to adversely affect trade in our largest single market, whilst denying UK access to the vital pool of skilled doctors, nurses, engineers, technicians, carpenters and other trades to meet the burgeoning needs of an ageing population.
Such a group does exist, but needs to coalesce around the Liberal Democrats, Greens, and the likes of Dominic Grieve, Anna Soubary and Ken Clarke from the Conservative Party with Chukka Umunna and Lisa Nandi and others from the Labour Party, in a Progressive Alliance in the National Interest.