As the Prime Minister worries about the effect on his image of putting up the Council Tax, his think tank got creative with the books.
They thought it would be a good idea to separate out an extra payment for refuse disposal -- in addition to the amount already paid via the Council Tax.
A number of bright ideas emerged from the discussion, including:
Charging households an extra £1 per week, for which they will receive one or two 'free' refuse bags, and obliging them to pay extra for further bags.
The Garbage Charge will be handled via the system used to raise Council Tax but it will be considered a separate item which is not quoted in statistics on changes in Council Tax from year to year.
The cost of logging extra bags and imposing an appropriate charge is expected to exceed the revenue raised from the Garbage Charge. In addition, councils will have to recruit inspectors to monitor refuse disposal contractors to ensure that their accounting systems for extra bags are effective and fully implemented. Councils have a duty to ensure that they receive value for ratepayers' money paid to outside contractors under the Local Government Act.
Charging a fixed fee of £5 per month to households which fill more than 2 bags per week.
The Garbage Charge will be handled as above, and revenue is expected to exceed expenses.
Weighing the rubbish at each house and imposing a Garbage Charge based on weight.
The capital expense for electronic weighing and data-logging equipment, and staff training costs, are expected to require a one-off Council Tax supplement of 13.4% and an annual supplement of 2.6% for maintenance of equipment and training of new staff. The billing system will add to the above.
Requiring each household to complete a weekly Refuse Inventory detailing the number of bags and their weights.
The inventory will be attached to one of the refuse bags, collected by refuse disposal operatives and passed on to the Town Hall Refuse Accounting Department. Invoices will be issued weekly, monthly or quarterly for the convenience of the Council Tax payer.
Each council will require extra staff to receive Refuse Inventories, supervise refuse disposal contractors as above and prepare invoices. The added staff costs are expected to exceed the revenue received.
Refuse sorted into the basic recycling categories: metal, glass, plastic and 'other' will not attract the Garbage Tax.
The Government is desperate to reach its arbitrary recycling percentage of 25% for household refuse and it will be willing to co-operate in 'losing' the additional costs of separate collections. Householders will still pay but, as is generally the case for Stealth Taxes, the information on how much will not be freely available.
If implemented, the policy is expected to result in:
Lots more fly-tipping.
Locks on dustbins to prevent neighbours and intruders from filling them up for free.
Bin Rage stories in the papers and on TV ad nauseam.
Recycling Rage stories ditto as a consequence of kids and other malicious people sneaking round to jumble sorted "free" refuse.
Greater scope for bribery and corruption in the refuse disposal industry.
Greater scope for politicians to lie about what a great job they're doing to tackle the National Refuse Mountain.
p.s. We tossed in a few ideas of our own for free.