Council Tax: Government’s Proposed Increase

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 3:38 pm on 25th January 2021.

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Photo of Steve Reed Steve Reed Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government 3:38 pm, 25th January 2021

I beg to move,

That this House
calls on the Prime Minister to drop the Government’s plans to force local councils to increase council tax in the middle of a pandemic by providing councils with funding to meet the Government’s promise to do whatever is necessary to support councils in the fight against covid-19.

Right at the heart of the local government funding settlement, there lurks a rather nasty little surprise. What the Chancellor and the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government trumpeted as an increase in funding for councils was nothing of the sort. Instead of the promised “end to austerity”, we got a Conservative council tax bombshell.

The Government made a choice to clobber hard-pressed families with a 5% council tax rise, after the Government’s mistakes led our country into the worst recession of any major economy. There are two big problems with that: it is economically illiterate to push up taxes while the economy is in crisis; and it is dishonest to trumpet the end of austerity when most councils will still be forced to cut services even after they impose the Conservative tax hike, because the rising costs of social care outstrip any increase in revenue, and the Government have done nothing about that crisis.