Council Tax: Government’s Proposed Increase

Part of the debate – in the House of Commons at 6:32 pm on 25th January 2021.

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Photo of Derek Thomas Derek Thomas Conservative, St Ives 6:32 pm, 25th January 2021

I was once a member of Penwith District Council, a council renowned for keeping council tax low and the quality of service delivery high. That came to an end with Labour’s local government reorganisation programme, forcing Cornwall Council on the good people of the Duchy. Since then, we have seen several years of council tax rises and several examples of wasteful spending, some of which was set out by my friend and colleague, my hon. Friend Steve Double. In fact, when the Conservative-run administration froze council tax for several years, Labour scoffed at us, suggesting that a rise equalled just four tins of baked beans. Many hundreds of tins of baked beans later, council tax presents a grave drain on working families and what we know as the just-about-managing. My sympathy is with those families, not the party political stunt of an Opposition day motion that we are now used to. I will always favour low taxes and good value for money. The example for Cornwall and of Cornwall is that this is only the case under a Conservative-run council.

As was mentioned by Tim Farron, the Government ran a consultation on council tax and second homes. The consultation was triggered by a debate I secured to seek to address the shortage of housing in tourist areas such as Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly. Could the Government please look at this issue? This debate relates to an increase in council tax to fund public services. I believe in tax simplification and a fair tax system for all. One way to address the issue would be to apply council tax to all properties built for residential purposes. That would ensure our police, and our town and parish councils receive the money they should receive and need. Sharing the costs of local public services fairly is something the Conservatives believe in and this is an opportunity to address that further. Would the Minister therefore please look at what is needed to ensure that properties built for residential purposes pay their fair share of council tax in areas such as mine around the country where tourism is a key part of the local economy?