Lib Dems launch election push with council tax pledge

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Indy Politics

The Liberal Democrats launched their local election campaign yesterday with an attempt to make further inroads into Labour's urban heartlands and capitalise on growing unease about the Iraq war.

The Liberal Democrats launched their local election campaign yesterday with an attempt to make further inroads into Labour's urban heartlands and capitalise on growing unease about the Iraq war.

Charles Kennedy sought to play up public anger about rising council tax bills and said a vote in next month's local elections for the Liberal Democrats would mean "a vote to scrap council tax".

Mr Kennedy said most households would save money under his proposals to abolish the tax, although he acknowledged that 30 per cent of households would pay more. "Many people on low and modest incomes would see a tax cut under our plans, which are based on best practice in America and Europe," Mr Kennedy said. "Council tax is now Britain's most unfair tax and it's time it was replaced with a fair tax related to people's ability to pay."

The party plans to replace council tax, which is a flat-rate charge based on the value of homes, with a local income tax. But their new tax would not raise enough money for many deprived areas which would have to be subsidised by central government from a £1.7 bn fund.

Ed Davey, the local government spokesman, said people would only start to pay more local tax if they had salaries of about £40,000 a year. He said many low-income households, particularly pensioners, were currently facing severe hardship because of council tax bills.

The Liberal Democrats are confident they can make "net gains in council seats" in the elections on 10 June.

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