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Local Taxation

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 4:00 pm on 4th July 2005.

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Photo of David Miliband David Miliband Minister of State (Communities and Local Government), Office of the Deputy Prime Minister 4:00 pm, 4th July 2005

The balance of funding review concluded that there was a strong case for more money to be raised locally. In respect of devolution, I believe that it is a good principle that power should be exercised as close to the people as possible, and I tell the hon. Gentleman in all seriousness that that is not just about power for the town hall; it must be about moving power from the town hall to the citizens as well. In that sense, this is not just a devolution deal between local and central Government—it must engage people beyond the town hall. That is important.

The property base of local taxation provides an efficient and workable foundation for taxation. For groups on low income, the council tax is, of course, reduced—for single people, by 25 per cent; for poor families, by council tax benefit, which is received by 4.9 million family units a year and is worth £13 a week on average, although we would all like take-up to be higher. Of course, there is a welcome boost for pensioners, pioneered by my right hon. Friend the Chancellor of the Exchequer.