Blair's constituency is most expensive for council tax

Click to follow
Indy Politics

The local authority that covers Tony Blair's constituency has the highest council tax in England, figures published by the Government yesterday show. The annual returns from local authorities of the charges they will levy from next month show that a band D home in Sedgefield will have an annual council tax bill of £1,376, a rise of 6.4 per cent on the current financial year.

The local authority that covers Tony Blair's constituency has the highest council tax in England, figures published by the Government yesterday show. The annual returns from local authorities of the charges they will levy from next month show that a band D home in Sedgefield will have an annual council tax bill of £1,376, a rise of 6.4 per cent on the current financial year.

Caroline Spelman, the Tories' spokesman on local government, said: "Tony Blair's constituents must be finding council tax particularly hard to bear. It has increased by £541 under Labour and it is the most expensive in the country."

The Government's figures show that the average band D council tax bill in England will rise by 5.9 per cent to £1,167 in the coming year, well below the 12.9 per cent increase a year ago but still more than three times the rate of inflation.

Some authorities may be forced to cut their bills as the Government is expected to use its powers to cap the budgets of high-spending councils. Its decision will be announced in the next few weeks after John Prescott's Office of the Deputy Prime Minister has analysed yesterday's figures.

Nick Raynsford, the Local Government minister, said councils could not justify excessive rises. "Many authorities have heeded this message and have set lower council taxes than those they originally proposed. However, some authorities have not. We do have targeted capping powers which we are ready to use if necessary."

The largest increases in bills will be seen in Torbay in Devon, (10.8 per cent), Herefordshire (10.7 per cent), Nottingham (10.1 per cent) and Medway in Kent (10.1 per cent). But these do not necessarily translate into a corresponding increase in bills, because the total figure includes charges from police and fire authorities and other tiers of local government.

The average band D tax from next month will be £1,119 in London, £1,186 in shire areas and £1,143 in metropolitan areas. Band D levels are higher than the average because most homes are in bands A to C and discounts are applied for single people, for second homes and for properties that stand empty on a long-term basis. Average bills per home in England will be £967 in 2004-05, compared with £908 in 2003-04.

A regional breakdown shows that the biggest increases in band D charges will be in the South-west (6.6 per cent), the South-east (6.4 per cent), the North-east (5.9 per cent) and London (5.8 per cent). The lowest will be in the North-west (4.6 per cent).

Sir Jeremy Beecham, chairman of the Local Government Association, said: "The LGA opposes capping in principle. Councils should be free, in consultation with local people, to determine their own budgets, spending priorities and tax levels. They are accountable to the people who elect them, and for ministers and their civil servants to second-guess councils' difficult decisions would make a mockery of the entire local democratic process."

TOP AND BOTTOM

The largest increases

Torbay, Devon (10.8%)

Herefordshire (10.7%)

Nottingham (10.1%)

Medway, Kent (10.1%)

Darlington, Co Durham (9.6%)

Blackpool (9.6%)

The lowest increases

Sefton, Merseyside (2.1%)

Birmingham (2.4%)

Dudley, West Midlands (2.5%)

Sandwell, West Midlands (2.8%)

Wandsworth, London (2.9%)

Comments