Labour warns of ‘Conservative council tax bombshell’

Labour has warned that the local government funding settlement will result in a “Conservative council tax bombshell”.

Shadow communities secretary Steve Reed said the Government’s plans to allow councils to raise council tax by 5% will “clobber hard-pressed families”.

However, Communities Secretary Robert Jenrick said the Conservatives have “reduced council tax in real terms under our watch”.

Police officer shot
Police officer shot

During an opposition day debate, Mr Reed told the Commons: “What the Chancellor and the Communities Secretary trumpeted as an increase in funding for councils was nothing of the sort because what we got instead of the promised end to austerity was a Conservative council tax bombshell.

“The Government made a choice to clobber hard-pressed families with a 5% council tax rise after the Government’s mistakes led our country into the worst recession of any major economy.

“Make no mistake, this is a Conservative tax hike, made in Downing Street and imposed on hard-working families after the Government’s mistakes left our country facing the deepest recession of any major economy.”

Responding for the Government, Mr Jenrick attacked Labour councils for their spending policies.

The Andrew Marr Show
The Andrew Marr Show

He said: “Labour in local government today is a catalogue of failure, of dysfunction and of waste.

“In Nottingham, the party opposite blew £38 million on a failed energy company, made 230 of its employees redundant over Skype, before rewarding themselves with a backdated pay rise.

“Robin Hood Energy, as they describe it. Well, Robin Hood stole from the rich, but Labour’s Robin Hood just stole from everyone.”

Mr Jenrick added: “Hackney Council planted thousands of trees only for them to die due to neglect. Literally Labour dead wood. Even the Labour local government front bench keeps up this tradition, inexplicably taking two shadow secretaries of state to do the job of one actual one.

“While we have reduced council tax in real terms under our watch, they (Labour) have increased it time and time again.”

Migrant Channel crossing incidents
Migrant Channel crossing incidents

Conservative MP Natalie Elphicke (Dover) said Kent County Council faced a £24 million black hole because of the costs of illegal immigration to the authority.

She said: “Kent County Council have calculated they have a funding hole in their reserves of over £24 million directly related to the cumulative costs of illegal entry into our country whether through the small boats route or lorries coming into Dover.

“This is in addition to local policing and other costs.”

In a second opposition day debate Labour will call on the Government to maintain “all existing employment rights and protections” including the 48-hour working week and set out a timetable by the end of January to “introduce legislation to end fire and re-hire tactics”.

The party warned scrapping the 48-hour week may be the “thin end of the wedge and risk hours spiralling out of control for hundreds of thousands more workers if a reverse 15% increase occurs”.