Tory cheek on council tax rises

The Sun today reports that council tax "has doubled under Labour" - But 30 of the 50 councils with the highest rate of council tax increases are run by Tories.

The Suns today reports that council tax “has doubled under Labour” – but 30 of the 50 councils with the highest rate of council tax increases are run by the Tories, with a further seven Conservative-led coalitions.

The Sun report says:

“Council tax has doubled under Labour – and the average bill in England is set to soar by another £25. Families will have to find £1,439 a year for an average Band D home – costing a record £120 a month.”

The story does not, however, mention that the council tax increases result from decisions taken locally, not in Whitehall. Indeed, central government funding has risen 45 per cent in real terms since 1997. By contrast, funding fell 7 per cent under the last time the Conservatives were in power – another fact overlooked by the Sun.

Five of the top six councils with the highest real term increase in council tax in the past 13 years are all Conservative run: South Cambridgeshire (98%), East Cambridgeshire (97%), Fenland (96%), Westminster (95%) and Wandsworth (94%). The council with the highest increase is, however, Labour-run Tower Hamlets in east London, which has had a 120% real term increase.

But overall, just six of the top 50 councils are Labour run or Labour led – the same as for the Lib Dems – with one led by none of the main parties.

The average council tax in top-tier Labour local authorities for the next year is £1,005 per dwelling, a 1.2 per cent increase on 2009/10, compared to £1,301 in Tory top-tier authorities – a 1.9 per cent rise – and £1,197 in Liberal Democrat top-tier local authorities.

The Sun’s shoddy journalism is compounded  by the fact that the quotes attributed to Ms Spelman are identical, word-for-word, to those used by her in November. Her line that “Council tax is Gordon Brown’s most painful stealth tax”, followed by the claim “you pay more and get less under Labour” is a direct lift from a Tory press release dated 5 November 2009, reported in the following day’s Express.

The Conservatives were unavailable for comment.

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18 Responses to “Tory cheek on council tax rises”

  1. Jenni Jackson

    Tory lies on council tax rises:

  2. Allan Jones

    The Sun may engage in shoddy journalism, but this blog post isn’t much better. To state that ‘the council tax increases result from decisions taken locally, not in Whitehall’ is either disingenuous or misguided or both. Local authorities get about four fifths of their funding from central government, with the difference made up by Council Tax. So changes in Council Tax are driven to a large extent by central government funding decisions. If you were able to show how changes in Council Tax related to changes in central government funding of local authorities, then you might have something intelligent to say on the matter.

  3. Claire Spencer

    This @leftfootfwd piece shows the situation in Bham – only central funding is propping up our rotten administration:

  4. John77

    DEFRA staff have admitted that they ran computer projections of the results for umpteen different formulae for “needs-based” assessment of central government grants in order to choose one that particularly favoured Labour-controlled local authorities. These formulae have been repeatedly changed over the last dozen years as control of local authorities have shifted.
    The reason why council tax has increased faster for Conservative-controlled local authorities is that New Labour has imposed extra costs on all local authorities and then provided much higher subsidies to those conrolled by Labour. A few local authorities have got so fed up that they produce annual data on the change in their grant from central government compared to inflation and the general average.
    Do you think that we are stupid?

  5. El Sid

    As others have said, the level of council tax is the (small) difference between central government grant and expenditure. They have no control over the first of those. If you’re wanting to score points about the efficiency of a council, you should look at the % change in their expenditure rather than council tax. And given the extra burdens central government have been imposing on local government, you need to compare that across all councils, as the benchmark will be considerably in excess of RPI.

    Just taking South Cambs in 2007/8 as an example :

    They appear to be making payments to central government of £2.265m, and received £1.198m towards their running costs in government grant and from their reserves. Thus it would appear that the council taxpayers of South Cambs are subsidising central government’s running costs rather than vice versa – no wonder their council tax has gone up!!!

    To be fair, they also had £4.06m in “grants and allowances” towards capital expenditure, but that’s not broken down.

    The absolute level of council tax also matters – South Cambs D band was £1,292.84 in 2007/8. What’s the average D band in Labour boroughs?

    East Cambs 2008/9 numbers are here :

    Government grant is £0.977m, 9.4% of their total income. Their net expenditure over 2007/08 went up by £1.1m, more than their entire government grant!

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