Under the last Government, council tax more than doubled. This Government are working with councils to freeze council tax for two years. A recent survey by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy indicates that council tax bills this April will go up by only 0.3%. I would have preferred that amount to be zero, but it is a real-terms reduction for hard-working families and pensioners.
I thank the Secretary of State for his answer. What does he make of City of York council’s decision to reject a £1.8 million grant from the Government, and instead to raise council tax needlessly instead by 2.9%, thus increasing financial pressures on York residents?
I would certainly be willing to take an away-day trip to York, if only to listen on the doorstep while a canvasser explains why getting an additional sum of £294,000 justifies rejecting a £1.8 million grant from the Government. This is clearly not in the interests of York; the council has not protected its council tax payers. I am afraid that, unlike the 300-odd authorities throughout the country that have taken the freeze, this council is going to find itself in a very difficult position.
What would the Secretary of State say to constituents of mine in Westminster such as the 90-year-old gentleman with glaucoma who is blind in one eye and unable to walk, and a gentleman I met last weekend with Parkinson’s disease, who have had their taxi cards removed by Westminster city council and correspondingly have to pay £40 for every single journey they make? As they point out, the amount for every single journey is twice the saving they make from the council tax freeze.