Blair says ministers will cap large increases in council tax

Tony Blair warned that there was "absolutely no justification" for big council tax rises this year as the Government confirmed it was considering a range of other taxes to replace the charge.

The Prime Minister said ministers were not afraid to use their capping powers against those councils which came up with double-digit increases.

Earlier, Nick Raynsford, the Local Government minister, revealed that he was examining all options on town hall financing, including a raft of small taxes such as local income tax and stamp duty.

Mr Raynsford said he would look at proposals from the cross-party Local Government Association for localised versions of road tax, sales taxes, tourist taxes and charges on utilities that dig up the road.

Council tax could be overhauled to make it fairer, a slice of income tax could be directed to councils and business rate "relocalised" instead of being dictated by Whitehall.

At his monthly Downing Street press conference, the Prime Minister said last year's average 13 per cent increase in council tax had been difficult to justify at a time when central government support for local authorities was increasing.

Mr Blair warned ministers were prepared to use their capping powers to prevent similar increases this year.

"We have made available even more cash and we have lifted some of the ring-fencing which should make it easier for local authorities and there really is no justification for high council tax rises. Absolutely no justification at all," he said.

"We have made it clear that we are prepared to use capping powers if necessary if there are unreasonably high levels."

On BBC Radio 4's Today programme, Mr Raynsford said the Government was examining different ways for bringing greater fairness and transparency to local government finance, including reforming or replacing council tax.

"We set up the balance of funding review some nine months ago. We have been doing very detailed work. Some two months ago, we identified a series of options which are very, very close to the options the Local Government Association has set forward," he said. "We want to look at all the options, including the possibility of reforming the council tax, or possibilities of replacement by other taxation," he said.

Mr Raynsford said that he understood the concerns of some businesses that councils might regain control over the level of the business rate - although he also pointed out that businesses' share of the taxation burden had declined in recent years.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
2015 General Election
May2015

Poll of Polls

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Online Media Sales Trainee

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Now our rapidly expanding and A...

Recruitment Genius: Public House Manager / Management Couples

£15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you passionate about great ...

Recruitment Genius: Production Planner

£20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Recruitment Genius: General Factory Operatives

£18000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This fast growing reinforcing s...

Day In a Page

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

As in 1942, Germany must show restraint over Greece

Mussolini tried to warn his ally of the danger of bringing the country to its knees. So should we, says Patrick Cockburn
Britain's widening poverty gap should be causing outrage at the start of the election campaign

The short stroll that should be our walk of shame

Courting the global elite has failed to benefit Britain, as the vast disparity in wealth on display in the capital shows
Homeless Veterans appeal: The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty

Homeless Veterans appeal

The rise of the working poor: when having a job cannot prevent poverty
Prince Charles the saviour of the nation? A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king

Prince Charles the saviour of the nation?

A new book highlights concerns about how political he will be when he eventually becomes king
How books can defeat Isis: Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad

How books can defeat Isis

Patrick Cockburn was able to update his agenda-setting 'The Rise of Islamic State' while under attack in Baghdad
Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

Judith Hackitt: The myths of elf 'n' safety

She may be in charge of minimising our risks of injury, but the chair of the Health and Safety Executive still wants children to be able to hurt themselves
The open loathing between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu just got worse

The open loathing between Obama and Netanyahu just got worse

The Israeli PM's relationship with the Obama has always been chilly, but going over the President's head on Iran will do him no favours, says Rupert Cornwell
French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

French chefs get 'le huff' as nation slips down global cuisine rankings

Fury at British best restaurants survey sees French magazine produce a rival list
Star choreographer Matthew Bourne gives young carers a chance to perform at Sadler's Wells

Young carers to make dance debut

What happened when superstar choreographer Matthew Bourne encouraged 27 teenage carers to think about themselves for once?
Design Council's 70th anniversary: Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch

Design Council's 70th anniversary

Four of the most intriguing prototypes from Ones to Watch
Dame Harriet Walter: The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment

Dame Harriet Walter interview

The actress on learning what it is to age, plastic surgery, and her unease at being honoured by the establishment
Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Art should not be a slave to the ideas driving it

Critics of Tom Stoppard's new play seem to agree that cerebral can never trump character, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's winter salads will make you feel energised through February

Bill Granger's winter salads

Salads aren't just a bit on the side, says our chef - their crunch, colour and natural goodness are perfect for a midwinter pick-me-up
England vs Wales: Cool head George Ford ready to put out dragon fire

George Ford: Cool head ready to put out dragon fire

No 10’s calmness under pressure will be key for England in Cardiff
Michael Calvin: Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Time for Old Firm to put aside bigotry and forge new links