11. What steps his Department has taken to minimise increases in council tax bills since May 2010. (908057)
Under the Labour Government, council tax more than doubled. Under this Government, our council tax freeze is saving hard-working families up to £1,075 on a band D bill. In Labour-run Wales, there is no council tax freeze, and bills are going through the roof.
My constituency is served by two district councils. Conservative Rugby borough council has frozen council tax for the sixth year in a row, saving my constituents there more than £125 at a time when the council is investing in new facilities. By contrast, my constituents in Bulkington are being hit with an average increase of £30 a year from Labour-controlled Nuneaton and Bedworth borough council. Which authority does the Secretary of State believe is doing the right thing for its residents?
It is clear to me that those residents are very lucky and fortunate in their choice of Member of Parliament, who I am sure is serving them extremely well. If all the authorities were to accept the freeze grant, they would receive £3 million in freeze grant among them to help keep down the cost for taxpayers in my hon. Friend’s constituency. That seems a much better way. Why not take money from the Government rather than from their population?
Has the Secretary of State made any assessment of the additional cost that householders have to meet because of the cuts that have been implemented in council budgets resulting in people now having to purchase the services that they desperately need?
I do not think there is any evidence of additional purchasing. This Government have been pushing councils hard to cut back on, for example, the bin tax, the tip tax and parking charges. The hon. Lady should look to the Government for reducing the cost to her constituents.
Residents in my constituency benefited from a very welcome temporary rebate in their council tax after the floods of last year, but their houses have probably been permanently devalued and they also face very high insurance premiums. Should that not be reflected in council tax banding? Will the Secretary of State instruct the Valuation Office Agency to that effect?
It seems a good idea for my right hon. Friend’s constituents to seek a revaluation. The Valuation Office Agency is willing to consider changed circumstances and I urge him to look into that.