Now, I don't know if you soft southerners know this, but in Scotland the water and sewerage is part of the Council Tax. A large part of the Council Tax, in fact. Of my £850 Council Tax bill, about £250 is water and sewerage charges. Furthermore, although the actual Council Tax in Edinburgh has only (only!) risen by about 5% year on year, the water charges have risen by about 16% year on year. Obviously, I'd give exact figures, but I can't find my Council Tax book (see post below).
As a single person living in a one-bedroom flat in Tollcross (not Edinburgh's most affluent area), I am generously granted 25% off the total bill of nearly £1300, and am thus required to pay a measly £90 per month. "What!", you cry. "For water and sewerage as well! What a bargain!" Hmm, possibly: I tell you, I'd far prefer to be metered and be charged for the water that I actually use, but that's an argument for another time.
What pisses me off beyond all boundaries is the fact that students pay no Council Tax. A flat of five students will put out more rubbish, use more local facilties, use more water—in showers, washing machines and, in many cases I know of, dishwashers—and piss and shit a fuck sight more than I do. By a factor of about five times, in fact. And towards all this the little bastards pay not one sodding penny.
A couple of years ago, when my girlfriend lived in New Town, she needed to wash a pair of jeans, and lamented the fact that she had no other clothes to wash. Her (immensely rich but feckless) flatmate suggested that she wash the jeans by themselves. H, to her great credit, refused. But do you see? The flatmate wasn't paying for the water, why the hell should she care?
In a city as small as Edinburgh (population slightly under 440,000), a student population of 23,000 makes a big difference to local taxes. Essentially, 5% of the population are paying nothing towards their local services or—and this is what really gets my goat—their water usage. That doesn't count all the permanent population on Council Tax assistance (the junior printer at my last job, who lived in a council flat (rent: £10 a month) with his girlfriend and baby paid only £20 a month*), and other benefits.
It makes me fucking sick.
*We worked out that, although I took home about £400 a month more than him, he actually had about £300 more free spending money a month than I did, even after buying nappies, etc. because of all the benefits that he raked in.
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