Keir Starmer calls for government to freeze council tax increases
The Opposition is using a debate in the House of Commons today to call on Chancellor Rishi Sunak to provide more money to local authorities and block councils’ increases in tax. Labour has forced a non-binding vote on the issue to try and put pressure on the Government to take action.
Citing estimated council tax rises per region, Labour warned families living in Band D “will face an average rise of £93 next year”, adding it would “hit hardest” in the North West and North East, which have high proportions of people on furlough.
The figures came from a study by the think tank the Centre for Progressive Policy.
Shadow communities and local government secretary Steve Reed said: “The Prime Minister’s £2billion council tax bombshell will hit many hard-pressed families at the worst possible time – just as many receive their P45s.
“This Government should not be making families pay the price for their broken promises to support councils.
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“The Prime Minister must scrap this economically illiterate council tax rise – and if he doesn’t, Conservative MPs need to do the right thing and vote with Labour to protect families’ incomes and help secure our economy.”
The Conservatives have accused the party of “hypocrisy”, claiming Tory-run councils charge £84 less a year for Band D properties than in areas run by Labour.
Conservative chair Amanda Milling said: “Labour are playing political games when it is Labour councils hiking up council tax across the country.”
Labour’s own London Mayor preparing to increase his share of council tax by almost 10 percent.
Mr Khan said the “decision is not taken lightly” and admitted councils tax rises would hit the poorest hardest.
He added: “I promise all Londoners that every penny of this will be put to good and efficient use keeping our public transport system running and keeping Londoners safe.”
Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said last year local councils can continue to rise tax by up to two percent without holding a referendum and can increase tax by a further three percent to help fund social care.
It remains the choice of individual councils whether to increase the levy or not.
A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesman said: “Council tax levels are a matter for locally elected representatives, but we have been clear that councils should take into account the financial circumstances of their residents.
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“The Government is not imposing any increase – rather, it sets a ceiling above which a local referendum is required.
“This protects residents against excessive increases.”
The Government has laid amendments to the Labour motion.
Last week the Opposition tried to shame the Government into scrapping a plan to scrap a temporarily £20 rise in universal credit.
The Prime Minister ordered his MPs to abstain from the vote, accusing Labour of “playing politics”.
In a WhatsApp message to Conservative MPs, he said: “Folks, I know that many of you are thirsting to give battle and vote against all Labour motions.
“But after the shameful way in which they used their army of Momentum trolls last time to misrepresent the outcome and to lie about its meaning and frankly to intimidate and threaten colleagues — especially female colleagues — I have decided not to give them that opportunity.
“We can be proud of what we are doing to tackle all the consequences of the pandemic and if Labour decides to stop playing politics and to stop inciting the worst kind of hatred and bullying (of a kind seen sadly across the Atlantic) then I may think again about legislatively vacuous opposition debates.”
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