Under Labour, council tax more than doubled. Under this Government, it has fallen by 11% in real terms. Further funding will be available to freeze council tax in 2015-16, which will mean five consecutive years of freeze funding since 2011-12. That is worth £1,075 for an average household over this Parliament. An announcement on the detail of this will be made shortly.
I am very grateful for the Secretary of State’s response. My hon. Friend Mike Freer and I had the tremendous problem of keeping council tax down in the London borough of Barnet under the last Labour Government. What steps will the Government take to continue in other areas to help hard-pressed families, pensioners and individuals by supporting them with their cost of living and to ensure that the London borough of Barnet protects front-line services?
I commend Barnet for freezing council tax for four successive years. It proves that councils can run their services efficiently and encourage growth without increasing taxes on local people. The council tax went from being a modest sum in people’s budgets to being absolutely overbearing, and it is exactly right that the most vulnerable people—pensioners and the like—have benefited from this freeze.
I thank my right hon. Friend for his earlier reply. As council tax is such a large bill, especially for those on fixed incomes, will he congratulate my local South Derbyshire district council on keeping its council tax at a zero increase for the past four years? We hope that this year’s settlement from the Government will help it achieve a record five years of frozen council tax.
On behalf of the Government, I say bless you, South Derbyshire. You have done a fantastic job. You have looked after the coffers very carefully and you have fulfilled good quality services at a reasonable cost, without going for the incremental rise every year.