“Think globally act locally” is a nice slogan, but a new Deltapoll survey finds town halls may struggle to raise council tax to tackle climate changeby Stephen Fisher / May 7, 2020 / Leave a comment
Along with the largely forgotten local elections that were supposed to be held today, this was also supposed to be a day for any local referendums that town halls are required to hold when they wish to jack up council tax above a national threshold. But the polling stations are every bit as locked shut as the rest of us are locked down. For anyone with an interest in environmental politics, this is a frustration, because one intriguing council tax referendum was due to take place on the Warwick District Council “Climate Emergency Action Programme.” This plan was for a ring-fenced “Climate Action Fund” financed by a £1 a week rise in the (Band D) council tax rate.
Increases in council taxes are rarely popular. The large annual bill makes it a particularly stark levy, and compared to income tax, National Insurance or even VAT it is designed in a way that imposes a relatively heavy burden on people on modest incomes. The only previous council tax referendum under the current legislation saw a big defeat, while another planned vote was subsequently cancelled. Whether the Warwick plan will now ever be put to a vote is unclear. A meeting to cancel the referendum had itself to be cancelled because of the lockdown.
To find out whether the Warwick scheme would achieve widespread support in Britain as a whole, Deltapoll, between 13th and 16th March (before the lockdown), asked a representative sample of 1,545 adults to “Imagine a referendum was held on increasing council tax for everyone in Britain by £1 a week in order to fund a greater reduction in climate change.”
Just 43 per cent said they would vote in favour. But since 13 per cent said they did not know and 7 per cent said they would not vote, only 37 per cent said they would vote against. On this basis, a nationwide referendum on a £1 a week increase in council tax for climate action would be expected to be won by around 54 per cent to 46 per cent.
For green tax enthusiasts, this margin is far too close for comfort. Voters don’t actually need to worry about paying such a tax when they answer a pollster’s question, in the way that they do when they approach a ballot box.…