Today’s debate on council tax rises is an excellent opportunity to set the record straight and to make it clear to the British people that Labour’s position on this topic, as on so many others, opens it up to allegations of hypocrisy.
It is undeniable that most Labour-controlled councils spend money recklessly and with little concern for the consequences. Appreciate how Labour-controlled Wakefield Council has, for decades, overseen the city’s deterioration. In 2008, the council pushed through plans for a £3 million market hall, against the wishes of local residents and the city’s market traders. The scheme has caused the city real hurt and lost an average of £190,000 per year. Although vast, however, that does not even cover the former chief executive’s £200,000 a year pay.
The council chooses to pay its bigwigs eye-watering sums, and yet it fails to deliver vital services. When it snowed last week, our roads were left unsafe for frontline workers to commute or the vulnerable to receive their vaccines. The council gritters were nowhere to be seen.
This sad story of inefficient and unresponsive local government is repeated in virtually every Labour-run administration. Nottingham city councillors gave themselves an above-inflation pay rise, while ruining council finances through schemes such as Robin Hood Energy. The Mayor of London severely mismanages taxpayers’ money, spending an extra £9 million on staffing costs—all to help boost his image—without helping those most in need. Labour’s record in local government is scandalous. The basic problem is that Labour continues to mismanage resources, and its irresponsible solution is to demand even more money, not to improve systems and create efficiencies. Where mismanagement of finances and waste are found, corrections must be made.
The Conservative Government have taken unprecedented action to ensure that councils can provide vital services during the pandemic. Councils have received £7.2 billion in extra funding, including £4.6 billion in un-ring-fenced grants to cover additional costs.
It is clear that Labour cannot be trusted to spend public money wisely. Labour relies on the taxpayer to always pay the cost of its failure. It is the Conservatives who have overseen a reduction in council tax in England in real terms. Labour managers saw this debate as an opportunity to claim the moral high ground, but Britain need only look at Labour’s track record to recognise that this debate is yet another example of its chronic mismanagement.