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Council Tax

Volume 542: debated on Monday 12 March 2012

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.

I do not know the precise circumstances of the hon. Lady’s constituents, but if she would care to write to me with the details, I would happily take up the matter with Westminster council.