Local Government Finance

Part of Oral Answers to Questions — Prime Minister – in the House of Commons at 4:58 pm on 3rd February 2010.

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Photo of Justine Greening Justine Greening Shadow Minister (Communities and Local Government), Vice-Chair (Youth), Conservative Party 4:58 pm, 3rd February 2010

The Housing Minister has left the Chamber, but I propose that the hon. Lady talks to him. Only last year he was saying that only one in five councils were actually charging for the services that they could charge for. The pressure for councils to charge is coming from her Government, not from councils. Councils across the country are being asked to pay for services and to fund more and more mandates from national Government without being given the money to do so. They have had one part-funded initiative after another.

I want to return to council tax, because there are people in this country who have been unable to afford council tax increases. A typical pensioner couple, for example, now pays £685 more a year on a band D property than they paid in 1997-98. In fact, only half of eligible pensioners claim the council tax benefit to which they are entitled. Ministers ought to focus on those issues. The Secretary of State was reluctant to answer any of my questions, but if we have another term of Labour in office, households across the country will see even more council tax increases coming down the track, because of more bands and a revaluation. Ministers never rule the latter out, because it is clearly going to happen, which is why we need a council tax freeze.

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