Monday, September 24, 2007

EXCLUSIVE: Brown to Announce Council Tax Rebate for (Some) Armed Forces Personnel

I understand that Gordon Brown's big announcement tomorrow (profuse apologies for spoiling the surprise) will be a £140 council tax rebate for armed forces personel. Well, actually, it's only for those serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Those serving in the Balkans don't count, I'm afraid.

Some bright speark thought up this idea in Downing Street last week and the MoD were told to "make it work". What no one told the MoD at the time was that the cost of this scheme was to come out of their budget. The MoD top brass is not at all amused and is spitting tacks at being used for yet another Brownite initiatiative which won't work.

So instead of addressing the problems of housing for armed services personnel or faulty equipment, Downing Street comes up with a gimmick which doesn't address the problems facing armed services personnel and is divisive to boot. He's developing a bit of a reputation for doing this.


Daily Referendum said...

Beautiful absolutely beautiful.

Man in a Shed said...

Difficult to administer - hard to figure out. Could have just *paid* them the money, and they could have chosen what to do with it. But oh no Gordon wants them to be grateful to him.

What he should really do is make sure that on the next election serving soldiers get to vote - after Labour changed the rules on registration and the number of servicemen overseas who could vote dropped dramatically with over 65% unable to vote.

(Benefiting which political party I wonder ? )

Anonymous said...

Do not worry Iain. We who serve this country have taken note of the fraudster and his gang. We have long memories. We are however delighted to help that destitute couple the Balls buy their house in London and are ecstatic that Mrs Hutton can put food on the table after lobbying so well with her husband in charge of the Department. Gordon is for families after all!

Anonymous said...

A case of robbing Peter to pay Peter.

Unsworth said...

So Brown thinks these guys can be bought off at £140?

That's a measure of his savage contempt for the military.

And to any serving soldiers I'd say "read the small print extremely carefully".

This man does not support you or your families - as you already know.

Elliott said...

"He's developing a bit of a reputation for doing this."

Indeed. As I observed at the time, the "extra £400m" he announced for defence in his last budget as Chancellor was a phantom too (he actually froze defence spending - links in post).

I did hope that this unwillingness to pay for defence commitments might come back to bite Brown once he became responsible for sending our troops into battle. Maybe it will get more attention this time. Great scoop!

William Gruff said...

Gordon The McGravy Train Engine is heading for a crash: He's on the wrong track and a collision is inevitable.

Anonymous said...

Golly gosh! A whole month free!

(Limp applause)

Anonymous said...

Will this be posthumous? Those families who have seen sons and daughters killed in a pointless, illegal war in Irag will be so overjoyed when they get their £140 council tax rebate. "God bless you Mr Brown, sir" they will say as they straggle off to the polling station to put their mark against Labour.

Anonymous said...

This is another great example of our 'Small Print' Prime Minister – who has merely graduated from being the 'Small Print' Chancellor.

He comes up with these great soundbite initiatives, which sound fine until you are hit with the small print several days later when it’s too late. Remember the recent budget which reduced basic income tax by 2p ? But then the small print advised us the 20% tax band was abolished which actually made many worse off ? And the rise in air passenger tax last year which the small print revealed that it also applied to people who had bought their tickets months before he made his announcement?

Please, please, please will someone show this ‘Small Print’ man to be the greedy con-man he really is ?

Anonymous said...

Yes, Iain, but even with political will and lots of dosh, it might get a decade to repair the damage to army quarters caused by years of neglect and under-investment. And there is an election in the pipeline so all that will happen is this sellotape and string 'quick fix'...

Richard Dannatt was on Newsnight last week, saying that in America troops are welcomed home and given free tickets to sporting events. I suspect in the less demonstrative British Isles they might settle for not having to live in a $h!t hole..

Sonicdeathmonkey said...

£140 eh....I'm sure they would prefer body armour, ammo and proper boots..

Man in a Shed said...

...(see earlier comment) Should have added link to DT article on armed forces unable to vote here - it contrasted nicely with a soldier walking past Iraqi election posters.

Ralph said...

With all of these games isn't the best response, 'Why now not ten years ago Gordon?'

Anonymous said...

I am reliably told that they didn't get the tax rebates they were promised in the budget either.

Richard Havers said...

He's such a flash git.

Anonymous said...

Of course I could point out, that service personnel living on camp in billets, were going to be liable to the poll tax. How many tories complained about that?

Anonymous said...

Forget all the spin and ask Brown, Cameron, Campbell et al to respond to the outrage we voters feel at the way MPs pursue their own interests above that of the country and the British people, as brilliantly presented by Peter Oborne in tonight's Channel 4 Dispatches programme. If any of them is genuinely prepared to rectify this, then they may just begin to deserve consideration as being suitable to govern this country.

Anonymous said...

Labour has never been too keen to wear khaki, royal or navy blue, so what do they know about serving your country?

The fact is the socialists, like Brown, have a healthy dislike of service personnel and always have had. You can't change history with a gimmick!

Chris Paul said...

You need to sack your spell checker. We'll see in due course about the fact checker.

I guess you're saying that these workers should chuck the rebate back at the government?

What would the Tories do if this happens? Repeal it? Extend it to non battlefield postings? And if it is not repealed how will it be funded?

Is it a good idea in principle Iain? If so the funding matter is for negotiation.

Seems OK to me. And if they buy so few bullets and bombs that they cannot go to ward as much any more than that will suit me fine.

ian said...

Did the soldiers not know they'd have to pay council tax before they signed up? Did they not know what the job entailed? Fighting wars in foreign lands is what they're there for, and it's a bit rich of them to complain about having to do their job.

Newmania said...

Thank god there are some people here who are not taken in by NEW BROWN. I haven`t felt such a stranger in my own country since the wierdness following Diana`s death.


Newmania said...

I see your point as well. Its government by headline again isn`t it. Immigration is a worry = some rebranding of exisiting coastal agencies and minor tinkering .Crime is a worry = try harder with what you`ve got.A bank fails .= spend our money on his career in billions.The army is treated like dirt for years = have a few sovs that were yours already.

Its as if Blair never went away...and even fawning courtesans like Chris Paul are reduced to twittering about spelling . Jesus think of it ,ten years of being obliged to behave in ways decided by people like him.That what we have got coming if we don`t get out act together.Hell.

Ted Foan said...

Iain - that arch spellchecker, Chris Paul, seems to have had a glitch:

"...if they buy so few bullets and bombs that they cannot go to ward as much any more than that will suit me fine."

Is he talking about the NHS? Has Chris got his pre-printed "Labour answers to anything" mixed up? Surely that would count against him in the top blogger spot?

chatterbox said...

Brown gives with one hand and a headline but takes it away with the other hand on the sly!!!
This is just another example of Gordon Brown's cheap politics. I won't hold my breathe to see if the dead tree press do their job with this cynical ploy!

"I am reliably told that they didn't get the tax rebates they were promised in the budget either."

Iain, any chance you could find out more about Ian's assertion about the tax rebate?

Anonymous said...

You only have to look at some of the army "blogs" to know what the majority think of Gordon and his pal "Swiss Des"
This latest "gimmick" is just that.It'll impress very few and given the MoD track record be deducted off some other allowance(obviously "on the quiet" when the MSM are looking elsewhere)

Labour also aren't likely to change the registration system in a hurry either. Would you deliver thousands of votes to your political opponents ?

Daily Referendum said...

The BBC are playing this down in their usual manner:

[The council tax payment has already been dismissed as spin by the Conservatives, who point out that there is no new money. They also say it discriminates between personnel on different operations.]

They skirted the fact that this money would come from the defence budget quite nicely.

Unsworth said...

Astounding comment and stunning grasp of reality from the 'Chris Paul'...

"these workers"? Good Grief. Sort of like social workers with guns, then? Oh, and do they get 'overnight allowances' for sleeping in holes in the ground whilst being shot at?

As to "going to ward". Sadly some of them (far too many for this cowardly government to admit) do. Unfortunately there are no military hospitals because they have all now been closed by this government, so they have to go to Birmingham. Fine for those who live there, of course - what about the others, though?

Who placed them in harm's way, anyhow? Or maybe he thinks that they all sort of decided it would be quite a jolly thing to invade Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia etc, etc, etc.

"Less bullets and bombs"? What was that great wheeze with buying new super-dooper Trident and new destroyers and aircraft carriers to be built in Labour constituencies? Very useful for the man on the ground, of course. And now Drayson is finally getting his act together and putting pen to paper to order some armoured personnel carriers which may, if they arrive in time, reduce the number of casualties.


Anonymous said...

As a serving member of the Armed Forces, i have to say i am astounded at some of the negative comments on this blog. We do choose to sign up and go where the government of the day decides to send us.

However it is on the understanding that our families are looked after, that we are properly equipped and if we get injured we are properly looked after on our return.

British servicemen and women, whatever the colour of their uniform have always shied away from drawing attention to ourselves unlike our US and EU counterparts. However, you can't fault some of these countries in the manner in which the respect their armed forces.

To give an example, US forces deploy with everything they could possibly need. If they don't have a piece of equipment in service the American defence industry see it as their patriotic duty to produce it as soon as possible. The same can not be said for the UK.

In the US, service families have access to tax free supermarkets on base, tax free fuel and free health care for not just the serviceman but his family also. The same is true in most EU countries but not here.

If you can't get your head around the fact that armed forces need this level of support then try this simple anaolgy:

The armed forces are like an insurance policy. You pay the premium even though you might never have to use the insurance. Fail to pay the premium then you don't have the insurance.

Daily Referendum said...

Anonymous @10.01am,

Please do not think that the bad comments on this post represent any of the decent people in this country. You are appreciated, but no where near enough. Ignore the negative comments, as you know, you will find arseholes wherever you go.

If I had my way they would be whipped stark bollock naked to the front line to see what it is really like.

And Ian @ 11.36pm: Our serving men and women did not ask for this rebate. It's just another cynical ploy by Brown. The fact that the money is coming from the defence budget, only puts our forces in greater danger.

Anonymous said...

Don't mention 'divisive to boot'. It reminds us our footwear falls apart on parade squares.

Anonymous said...

Sadly we can all see what Brown is, however i doubt very much that the general public will be able to spot him for the charlatan that he is.

The announcements for the carriers, extra type 45 destroyers and so called extra spending were all held up so that he could announce them when he took office.

The replacement carrier programme started roughly at the same time as the design process for the French carrier charles de gualle. However 10 years down the line, millions spent on drawing, a turn over of hundreds of staff and we still don't have a carrier whilst the French are in the process of ordering their second.

At the moment, the British Navy is less powerful than the French. Whilst we are unlikely to go to war with the French, this goes some way to show why the French are so disdainful of the British Input into the EU.

I for one, am sick of the way we have been constanly cut in men and materiel under the auspices of efficiencies. Even though the cuts started under the last tory government, GB and TB could have and should have halted these reductions. What is truly disgraceful is that because defence spending is not en vogue, Laim Fox is not being given the free rain he needs to hammer the Labour Government - i actually doubt he has the intellect, and political gravitas to do so anyway.

Britain needs to wake up and wake up fast before the prophecies of General Dannatt come true, namely broken armed forces that will take decades to put right.

Notwithstanding my comments above and previously, i'm proud to serve the UNITED KINGDOM

Anonymous said...

So will the Tories raise questions about service personnel and elections or not? It cannot be right that young men and women are sent to fight by a government which then effectively disenfranchsises them by fiddling the registration rules. If Cameron does nothing on this he is beneath contempt.

I would hope that DC will also highlight the misgivings over the security of the ballots, why should Broon be let off from the shambolic postal voting in recent council elections.

ian said...

if we get injured we are properly looked after on our return

Which you do. Unless you're saying the NHS isn't good enough for you.

More money for soldiers and bombs? More money for nurses and hospitals? I know which I'd rather have.

Anonymous said...

ian you cock,

We're targets in operational theatres, why should we be part of NHS targets when we get back.

Once upon a time if we had an injury that kept us from the front line we'd be seen there and then in a military hospital. Now we have to wait for months on end for appointments like everyone else.

There isn't another country on this planet that doesn't have dedicated military hospitals.

Anonymous said...

Surely this will only apply to married soldiers and those singlies living out of barracks with the OCs permission.
Single soldiers pay food and accommodation that is part council tax. when on deployment or exercise food and accommodation is paid back in full.
I can't see them getting it back twice.

Anonymous said...

I understood military Council Tax contributions are not drawn from either food or accn charges but come under a third separate charge of Cash in Lieu of Council Tax (CILOCT) a charge calculated through the MOD not incurred by single serving accn occupiers during operations or exercises but paid when in barracks for access to local services etc. But to the issue; addressing the sacrifice being made by our servicemen and women with a rebate of council tax is fundamentally flawed and frankly barking. On one hand £140 over a 6 month tour is about £23 per month; that theoretically could go towards the extra money soldiers and their families pay on topping up free phone credit allocation(recently raised above the level of rapists and murderers in British prisons) or the cost of posting parcels at points throughout the year when the full cost is incurred. But local council services, who need less money like a hole in the head, are still providing a service for HM Forces families left behind. This rebate money diverted from, I can only assume funds earmarked for vital equipment, could pay for the swimming pool at Hedley Court, currently and shamefully for the Govt being spearheaded by a volunteer organisation Help for Heroes. For our servicemen and women I believe it better to take the money, if money be deemed to be the right thing to do, from central coffers like an income tax rebate (as per US and Australian forces serving on operations) as they are almost always out of the country for 6 months, small break, then another tour. Some soldiers, I hear are now doing 9 month tours would, if they were civilians, be out of the United Kingdom long enough not to pay tax! But they are not civilians and it is ironic how soldiers who do not ask for this financial bonus are being criticised by some bloggers on this site as being greedy; as if they’d asked for it! Pay is certainly not anywhere near the top of the list as to why people leave the Forces; family however is. They are certainly not on strike over pay and conditions. Bottom line; if the outcome of sometimes hand to hand combat, extreme gallantry, psychological disorder and supreme sacrifice in the name of Britain is not considered to be the greatest source of pride and deserving of the utmost government infrastructure support you should not have the right to call yourself the Government of this country. The Government ordered them to go and they went. British and Commonwealth soldiers are killing and being killed on their watch- ministers should, from the comfort of their expenses paid pad in London, do their bit. They could have another hard think about it at the Cenotaph this November or the next time they watch a Union Jack draped coffin land back in our country or the less public plane of casualties. Is a lack of understanding the real reason why local residents near Hedley Court in Ashstead protested against the planning permission for the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Families Association (SSAFA) families visiting injured family patients hostel? Is that the reason over 100 letters of objection against the plans about fears of noisy parties, increased traffic and a reduction in the value of their homes were submitted? Or is it that the Chairman of the Residents Association, S Vafadari and the other objectors, should be ashamed to call themselves an association of anything in Great Britain let alone be allowed anywhere near a poppy this November. As for the money, the rebate? Ask the lads in foreign fields fighting for each others lives with a Union Jack on their shirtsleeve giving the some of the similar shirt wearing objectors of Ashstead the ironic right to call themselves English and cheer of their rugby team or football team this week. No doubt a minority of them drinking and smoking on the benefit payments our troops contribute to. I am convinced the lads and lassies would rather see £140 a head go to their injured and bereaved comrades families support package than contribute towards their recycling fees. Moreover a distinction between supporting the war and supporting the troops. In the US 17% of citizens have a Support Our Troops sticker on their car. Never in our history have the actions of our nations Armed Forces been so underreported, under resourced and misunderstood. I am ashamed to be British.