Poll tax is a very blunt instrument

How very fertile your correspondence pages were in the Observer Christmas Day edition! From red-flag waving Stephen Jackson to gun-toting individualist Barry Jones; from roundabout-campaigning Andrew Backhouse to plot-laden Labour party member Neil Woodroffe.

Topics included the pros and cons of the new road, national and local politics, reckless driving of invalid carriages on pavements, Bexhill’s Christmas lights, charitable giving, and planning issues in Hastings.

Barry Jones was in a class of his own, in one letter covering topics as diverse as the Poll Tax, state benefits, the primacy of the market, the virtues of thrift, gun control, Lib Dems and ISIL!

I’d like to take Mr Jones to task over his interpretation of the Poll Tax which he seems to suggest is the only way that individuals can be charged for the services that they receive from local government.

First, Poll Tax is extremely regressive and hits the poorest far harder than other service users because it is not related in any way to the means to pay, eg income or property.

It was largely for this reason that English peasants revolted against Richard II in 1381, a lesson from history that went well over Maggie’s head six centuries later.

Second, Mr Jones’ stated objective is to ensure that people using services must pay for them, but Poll Tax is a very blunt instrument which is incapable of achieving this.

Third, the obvious way for users to pay for the services they use is to charge them.

As a community we do this by paying local and central taxes.

Rother council applies a limited amount of individual service user charging, eg garden waste bins, but I suspect the cost of administering such charges exceeds the cost of collecting council tax.

Happy New Year Mr Jones, and to all your readers.

Peter Webb

Glenleigh Park Road


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