Millions of people around the country are facing rises in their council tax from April 2013 on the orders of Eric Pickles, Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.
Eric Pickles has lectured councillors that they have a moral duty not to increase council tax bills, whilst he has been planning a £450 million council tax bombshell of his own. But this is a bombshell that is to be paid totally by people on low incomes.
In a desperate bid to get councils blamed for this latest stealth tax, Mr Pickles has told councils that they can choose who gets the tax rise. But, it’s rather like offering the falsely condemned man the choice of being hanged or be-headed.
Councils are forced to choose between increasing council taxes on the working poor – over 740,000 working families currently benefit because their income is low - or those of the disabled or of families with young children. As pensioners are protected, others face a 16-25% cut. In the most cruel twist, those living in the least wealthy communities will get the biggest cut.
And, just as happened with the poll tax, councils will be forced to spend a fortune chasing people on low incomes for relatively small amounts of money they simply don't have.
When taken together with cuts in housing benefit and working families’ tax credits and education maintenance allowances, it is inevitable that many low income working families, who so far have continually managed to keep their heads just above water, will now lose the struggle. They won’t be waving, but drowning.
The Budget killed off Nick Clegg's claim that we are all in this together. But, to see big tax cuts for millionaires and significant tax increases for those on low incomes planned to come in on the very same day next April tells us everything we need to know about whose side the coalition is on.