Local Government Finances
Opposition Day — [1st allotted day]
Bob Neill (- Shadow Minister (Local Government and Planning) (Also Deputy Chairman of the Conservative Party), Communities and Local Government; Bromley and Chislehurst, Conservative)
I have heard what my hon. and learned Friend Mr. Cox has said, and no doubt the House has. I shall move on to the next part of my speech.
I was just observing that there has been a shift not only of funding within England, but of burdens, particularly on to council tax payers. A marked trait under this Government has been a shift of the financial burden away from the Treasury on to the council tax payer. That has been demonstrated conclusively by the amount of local government revenue that has to be raised by council tax, as opposed to the amount that is provided by central Government. That is not just about numbers or bill amounts; it is about the real impact that that has on people and their lives. I have already observed that council tax has doubled on the Labour Government's watch. This settlement means that band D bills will go up this year by a further £23, at a time when inflation is negative. The average bill at that level will come in at £120 a month.
It is sometimes forgotten that the poorest are usually the hardest hit by such changes. For example, the increase in council tax will eat up one third of the increase in the basic state pension. There is lots of evidence from many sources to demonstrate that the level of council tax is one of the key areas of concern for many families, because it has grown exponentially over the years.