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Council Tax Freeze

Volume 587: debated on Monday 10 November 2014

10. What assessment he has made of the effect on council tax payers of freezing the rates of council tax. (905958)

Under Labour, council tax more than doubled. Under this Government, it has fallen by 11% in real terms. Our council tax freeze is saving the average band D householder in England up to £1,073 over the lifetime of this Parliament.

Just like central Government, local government has had to take tough spending decisions. Does the Secretary of State agree that councils such as mine in Basingstoke, which have frozen council tax for five years, have protected front-line services such as the weekly bin collection and are now rated by their residents as providing even better value for money, have got those tough decisions right?

It is a pleasure to be associated with my right hon. Friend. I congratulate Basingstoke and Deane borough council on its excellent work. We must remember that we are doing all this to ensure that ordinary people on modest incomes are not forced to pay hundreds of pounds more for a mansion tax. That is why the Government will not introduce one. We want to reduce the cost of living, not increase it. That is why we are helping councils to freeze council tax.

Would the Secretary of State like to congratulate Kettering borough council, of which I also have the privilege to be a member, on freezing its share of the council tax since 2010, maintaining all its front-line services, maintaining its grants to local community groups and cutting car parking charges?

Every time I travel close to Kettering, I find myself saying, “Thank God for Kettering borough council.” What a great, well-run council it is. It is my pleasure to say from this Dispatch Box—I think for the 10th time—that Kettering borough council is magnificent, as is its Member of Parliament.

What is the additional cost to people on low incomes who now have to pay for basic services that they need and who have lost their council tax benefit?

I assume that the hon. Lady is making some kind of spending commitment on behalf of the Labour party—an unlimited one. Local schemes are put in place by local councils. We have offered them transitional relief to help them. It is a ludicrous argument to say that poor people and people who are struggling hard do not pay council tax. The problem with the hon. Lady is that she belongs to the political classes, who are out of touch with the needs of ordinary people.