Council tax to rise 8 per cent

Click to follow
Council tax bills could rise by an average eight per cent from 1 April under the proposed grants system for local government tabled last night by John Gummer, the Secretary of state for the Environment.

The Government is hoping that Labour will get the blame for the arrival of the higher demands immediately before the general election. But Labour and the Liberal Democrats who run the majority of councils blamed the Government for the higher charges.

MPs will vote on the grant settlement in the Commons next Monday, which Mr Gummer fixed after representations by 79 council delegations. The total provision of local authority spending will rise by 2.5 per cent but Government support will rise by 1.5 per cent.

Mr Gummer was accused of "causing misery for all" by David Rendel, the local government spokesman for the Liberal Democrats. In spite of a huge outcry from local council leaders, after the November Budget when the provisional figures were announced, Mr Gummer had refused to provide any more funding.

"This settlement will lead to an average eight per cent increase in council tax and major cuts in services, such as police, social services, and education," he said.

Frank Dobson, Labour's Environment spokesman, said: "This confirms that the Government expects the council tax payers to cough up an extra pounds 4bn in council tax over the next three years. It shows you cannot trust the Tories on tax."

Mr Dobson said Labour would return the business rate to local control subject to providing a measure of protection for local businesses.