South Kesteven District Council to discuss tax concession for police special constables after being described as "hypocritical"
South Kesteven District Council has been described as “hypocritical” after cabinet members decided not to agree to a council tax concession for special constables.
Lincolnshire police and crime commissioner (PCC) Marc Jones asked district councils to make the concession to the unpaid volunteers.
Independent councillor Phil Dilks accused the council of being hypocritical because it was refusing constables the concession while agreeing £100,000 should be spent on the unveiling of the Margaret Thatcher statue in St Peter’s Hill, Grantham.
Coun Dilks said: “It smacks of hypocrisy for the cabinet to deny special constables a relatively small thank you for their unpaid service. If all 22 specials living in South Kesteven claimed the concession, the total cost to SKDC would be just £825 a year – that’s a tiny fraction of the £133,487 a year members of cabinet collect between them for their voluntary work as district councillors.
“Last month, in the middle of a pandemic, the same members of cabinet authorised spending up to £100,000 of public money to underwrite an event to mark the unveiling of the Margaret Thatcher statue. Voting to blow £100,000 on a party, yet refusing to find £825 to help special constables shows how out of touch with reality the cabinet are – and begs the question, ‘what planet are they on?’
“As numbers of paid police officers in Lincolnshire have been slashed over the past decade, special constables play an increasingly vital role in fighting crime and keeping us safe.
“Across Lincolnshire they are on duty for an average of 29 hours a month without any pay: the PCC is asking us to offer them a limited reduction of up to 25 per cent off council tax bills. The bulk of the
cost of the plan would be picked up by Lincolnshire Police and Lincolnshire County Council, who support the idea.”
Cabinet member for finance and resources Adam Stokes (Con) said at the last cabinet meeting earlier this month: “While it is recognised the contribution the specials make in our district, I am alsovery mindful of the vital work undertaken across all our communities. Therefore the current scheme allows those who live and work in our district and irrespective of their role to apply for financial help should they require it.
“My view is that the current scheme provides sufficient financial help for those that need it without specifying the specific role they undertake, and therefore I do not support the inclusion of a discount for special constables from April 20/21.”
Coun Dilks, who represents Deeping St James, put a motion before the full council which is due to be debated this afternoon (Thursday). It asked the council to adopt the concession as requested by the PCC at the earliest possible opportunity.