Council Tax: Government’s Proposed Increase

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 5:37 pm on 25th January 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Claire Coutinho Claire Coutinho Conservative, East Surrey 5:37 pm, 25th January 2021

I suppose I should thank the Opposition for giving us this chance to talk about the Conservative record on tax and all the support—including an extra £10 billion for councils—that we have put in place during the pandemic. The level of support across the board has been unprecedented in peacetime.

I have a local example of Conservatives’ record on tax versus that of the Labour party. In Conservative Surrey, it was decided that council tax would go up by between 2% and 3% this year, whereas across the border in Labour-run London, the Mayor is looking at a 10% increase. In Labour-run Croydon, which also borders Surrey, the council has mismanaged its finances so badly that is has had, in effect, to declare bankruptcy.

I pay tribute to all my local councillors and council officers in Surrey, who have worked during this time not only to provide a brilliant service to residents but to take a careful look at our public finances and make sure that they are providing value for money for residents. The House will have heard today example after example of Conservatives being better with public taxpayer money. Frankly, no one believes that their taxes would have been lower under a Labour Government. Every single MP on the Opposition Benches stood on a manifesto that committed to hiking taxes in this country by £80 billion, taking them to the highest level ever in peacetime history. The Institute for Fiscal Studies said that Labour’s spending plans were not only “colossal” but “simply not credible”.

I want to spend the rest of my time talking about the council tax hardship fund. I am incredibly disappointed that the shadow Secretary of State and every single Labour MP have failed to mention it. This is a fund for which we put aside £500 million last year and £670 million this year, and it is there to help struggling families. Although I fear the Labour party is more interested in playing party politics, it is our duty as MPs to signpost families to the support that is there, instead of playing on their fears.

I notice that on the Labour leader’s Twitter feed today, there is a council tax calculator, which I tried out to see whether it would signpost people towards this support. It did not: it did ask for a variety of contact details that the Labour party could use for further electoral purposes, but it did not offer any real guidance. I urge every Labour MP who is going to be asked by Labour headquarters to pump out these scaremongering graphics later today to actually do their job, and signpost people to the support that this Conservative Government have put in place.