I mentioned yesterday that it is likely that the average Council Tax bills from Conservative councils in London are actually likely to be lower this year than last year. But for Council Taxpayers in England as a whole bills are expected to be even higher. A survey of councils by the Local Government Association has revealed that council tax bills in England are to rise by another £23 from April. Based on returns from 105 councils they predict an average increase of 1.6% – pushing the band D Council Tax up to £1,437. This increase comes as workers face pay freezes or pay cuts, and pensioners have suffered from lower income from their savings.
- Council tax bills in England are expected to hit £1,437 a year on an average Band D home from April, meaning the average bill will be £120 a month. Council tax bills have more than doubled under
Labour (+109%). Even a small rise this year is compounded by previous year’s hikes.
- By contrast, Scotland is benefiting from yet another council tax freeze this year, meaning bills are almost £300 a year less on a comparative home north of the border.
- A Conservative Government would work with councils to follow the example of Scotland, providing additional central funding to help councils freeze council tax. Labour Ministers have explicitly refused to adopt such a policy in England.
- Labour Party documents are calling for a council tax revaluation and re-banding after the election. In the Welsh revaluation in 2005, four times as many homes moved up one or more bands as down.
Caroline Spelman MP, Shadow Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government, says:
“Thanks to Gordon Brown, council tax bills have doubled while frontline services like weekly bin collections have halved. A fourth term Labour Government will make further cuts by imposing fortnightly collections for all and hike bills even more through an intrusive council tax revaluation.
“As Scotland benefits from yet another council tax freeze, hard-working families and pensioners in England face council tax bills of £120 a month from April. Only a Conservative Government will work with councils to freeze council tax bills south of the border, which Labour have refused to do.”
Labour Ministers have refused to freeze council tax bills in England. The following Parlaimentary Question could hardly be clearer:
Mr. Stewart Jackson: To ask the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government if she will make it her policy to implement a council tax freeze in England.
Mr. Khan: No.
The Labour Party’s local government arm has published Labour’s local manifesto for a fourth Labour term, Putting fairness first: Local Labour’s Manifesto for a new term.
The manifesto’s proposals include:
1. Higher council tax and a council tax revaluation
“The Labour Party remains committed to reforming council tax, and as we enter the second decade of the 21st Century it becomes an even more pressing concern, as current tax brackets remain rooted in valuations set in 1991. We think that at the very least, the council tax needs rebanding. The addition of more bands at both the top and bottom of the scale will help to make it a more genuinely progressive tax” (p.18).
“The council tax cap should be scrapped” (p.18).
2. Bin taxes, bin cuts and bin fines
“Local Labour will take the lead on zero waste… We will use both financial incentives and our regulatory powers to ensure that all do their bit when presenting materials for collection” (p.54).
“We will continue to move away from dealing with residual waste in the black bin… As the focus moves from primarily collected residual waste (black bag collections) to collecting materials for recycling it makes sense to modify collection frequencies” (p.54-55).
The Government has an explicit ‘Household Waste Prevention Policy Side Research Programme’ pushing for bin cuts, bin taxes and bin fines. The policy involves ‘collection limitations in terms of rubbish bin size or the interval between collections’, and seeks to ‘nationalise this policy among local authorities’ (document obtained via Hansard, 9 May 2008, Col. 1239WA). This policy guidance demolishes the Labour line that cutting weekly rubbish collections is a ‘local policy’ chosen by councils.