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Council Tax Freeze

Volume 579: debated on Monday 7 April 2014

13. What estimate he has made of the average saving to families paying band D council tax from the Government’s council tax freeze policy. (903551)

Our council tax freeze schemes could be worth up to £1,075 for an average band D household in England over the lifetime of this Parliament.

Despite the efforts of the Conservative administration in South Ribble, who have frozen council tax again for the fourth time in five years, my constituents are still facing a rise in council tax because of Labour-controlled Lancashire county council’s decision to increase its part of the council tax by a referendum-dodging 1.99%. Does my right hon. Friend agree that this rise is unjustified and that Labour politicians in county hall are the same old Labour, raising taxes for hard-working local people?

South Ribble deserves a lot of praise for freezing council tax four years on the trot. That is very welcome indeed. It is strange that a number of authorities, the majority of them Labour, have come in at 1.98% or 1.99%. In a way, that undermines their claim that local government funding is inadequate. If it was inadequate, I am confident that they would have gone for a larger increase in council tax.

Does the Secretary of State agree that it is a disgrace that the last authority, with a Conservative administration in county hall, is being investigated by the police? There has perhaps been a misappropriation of funds, which the police are looking into, and serious problems with the accounting at county hall. The Labour administration which has come in is having to pick up the pieces.

Very tangentially related to the question of a council tax freeze, but the intellectual ingenuity of the Secretary of State is such that I feel sure he can respond both pithily and in order.

I am grateful for that vote of confidence, Mr Speaker. That view might not always be shared throughout the House. Clearly, investigations are taking place, but that in no way undermines the enormous achievement of delivering a low council tax, improving many services and getting a lot of people off the dole during the four years that Conservatives ran that council.