My hon. Friend makes a sound point, to which I was just coming. Because of the large number of band A properties in Stoke-on-Trent, the tax take is relatively low. Just taking the 2.5% increase instead of the much larger imposition that would be needed to go some way to not having to make the £24 million or so of cuts this year on top of the £36 million or so last year, means that the council will probably be unable to afford not to raise the price of things like respite care or day care centres. The council could not take the 2.5% pay-off to do that but would have to raise council tax by more to get some way to avoiding that.
Day care centres are under threat. There is talk of closing such things in Fenton and in Burslem in the constituency of my hon. Friend Joan Walley. These cuts across the board are again hitting the poorest and most vulnerable people in our society who live in Stoke-on-Trent.
I have a long list of things, but in the time I have left, I want to mention something that the Chancellor announced yesterday in respect of what on the face of it appears to be help for energy-intensive users. Stoke-on-Trent has many energy-intensive users in the ceramic industry. As Dr Laura Cohen of the British Ceramic Confederation has said, the thresholds have been set so high and the proposals have been done in such a way that they will not help ceramic producers in Stoke-on-Trent, many of whom have contacted the confederation to say that it is an empty gesture that will not assist them. That is the sort of thing that Government policies are doing. They are hammering communities such as Stoke-on-Trent and, frankly, that is outrageous.