Covid-19: Drop ‘absurd’ 5% council tax increase – Starmer

Publishedduration19 hours ago

“Absurd” council tax rises should be scrapped to ease the pressure on family budgets, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has said.

Local authorities in England will be able to raise council tax by 5% from April, with 3% used to top up adult social care budgets.

Sir Keir said this meant those living in a band D property could see bills rise by an average of £90.

He added that the prime minister should provide extra funding to councils.

But the government says the rise in council tax bills, plus extra money from central government, will ensure a real-terms increase in support for local services.

Sir Keir wrote in the Sunday Telegraph: “It is absurd that during the deepest recession in 300 years, at the very time millions are worried about the future of their jobs and how they will make ends meet, Boris Johnson and [Chancellor] Rishi Sunak are forcing local government to hike up council tax.

“The prime minister said he would do ‘whatever is necessary’ to support local authorities in providing vital services – he needs to make good on that promise.”

Sir Keir urged Mr Johnson to “give families the security they need” by dropping the tax increase.

He said families had been treated as an “afterthought” by the government during the pandemic, adding that Labour would become the “party of the family” under his leadership.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson said: “Council tax plays an important role in helping fund the frontline services needed to respond to the pandemic.

“Our approach strikes a balance between allowing local authorities to address service pressures and ensuring local residents have the final say on excessive increases.”

A £500m fund to support people struggling with finances meant councils could “cut bills further for some of the most vulnerable households”, they added, while a £7.2bn support package would help meet “the major Covid-19 service pressures in their local area”.

The chancellor’s Spending Review in November set out the cost to the UK economy so far of dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Mr Sunak warned the “economic emergency” caused by the pandemic had only begun, with lasting damage to growth and jobs.

Scottish referendum

Interviewed on BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show, Sir Keir said there was no scope for a “major renegotiation” of the UK’s post-Brexit trade deal

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