Wednesday, 21 April 2010

Election 2010: Surrey Taxpayers - The 'Great Ignored'

David Cameron launched the Conservative election campaign promising to fight for the 'great ignored' across Britain - hard-working, law-abiding families who do the right thing, but feel taken for granted by this government.

I have been out across the constituency, at commuter stations, on the high street and discussing local issues with residents in town halls - and I am struck by how many times I have heard the same common complaint, that this government has taken them for a ride. Surrey taxpayers cough up £5.5billion per year in taxes for central government, but get back a third of the national average level of funding for local public services. That impacts on everything - from local authorities' ability to fix pot holes, the number of police on the street to the pressures we face on secondary school places. No wonder people feel ignored, overlooked, and taken for granted.

The Lib Dem answer will make matters worse. As explained here, Nick Clegg proposes replacing council tax with a local income tax, levied at 3.5%. For the average family in Elmbridge, that means they would pay over £2,500 pounds extra each year - with even more money siphoned off out of this constituency, to spend elsewhere across the country. That is their manifesto commitment.

So the Conservatives are the only party saying we want to give taxpayers here more bang for the buck. Of course, we are limited by the massive debt Labour has stacked up. But we promise a range of practical measures to address the bad deal taxpayers currently get here:
  • First, we will freeze council tax for two years (paid for by specific cuts in waste, including government advertising and consultants) - saving the average family across the country up to £200.
  • Second, we will rein in the budget deficit - which otherwise Surrey taxpayers would end up paying disproportionately for in higher taxes.
  • Third, we will review the current funding formula - that defines the amount of funding we get back from the Treasury for local services. As your MP, I would personally fight tooth and nail for a fairer deal for Elmbridge.
  • Fourth, we want greater local democracy - so local communities have a stronger say over public service priorities, and the way their taxes are spent.


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