Boris Johnson’s Conservative government has announced plans to increase council tax in an attempt to aid economic recovery and make up for some of the money that local councils have lost during the Covid-19 pandemic.
But now, a fightback is beginning, spearheaded by the Labour party who say that around one million workers in England are facing imminent unemployment at exactly the same time that Boris plans to increase their council tax bill by £100.
Shadow communities and local government secretary, Steve Reed, said: “The Prime Minister’s £2 billion council tax bombshell will hit many hard-pressed families at the worst possible time – just as many receive their P45s.
“This Government should not be making families pay the price for their broken promises to support councils.
“The Prime Minister must scrap this economically illiterate council tax rise – and if he doesn’t, Conservative MPs need to do the right thing and vote with Labour to protect families’ incomes and help secure our economy.”
The news of increased council tax is just the most recent from a government that is trying desperately to find ways of making up some of the money that has been lost through the job retention scheme (or furlough) and the stamp duty holiday, among other tax cuts that have been implemented for the past year.
According to Communities Secretary, Robert Jenrick, local authorities will be able to decide whether or not to enforce the council tax increases, suggesting that they will see their “core spending power increase in cash terms by up to 4.5% under the Government’s plans”.
But critics of the government’s plan say that blanket tax increases will only serve to harm those in the country who have already been most gravely affected by the pandemic and its subsequent lockdowns, demanding more money from those who have little to give away.
But, in defence of their position, a spokesperson for the Ministry of Housing said:
“Council tax levels are a matter for locally elected representatives, but we have been clear that councils should take into account the financial circumstances of their residents.”
It was only a matter of time before the government had to start finding ways to recoup some of the money their mid-pandemic initiatives have cost, but many will say the money should be coming from those in positions of financial strength, not those who are most likely to struggle.
As opposition to the initiative builds, it remains to be seen whether the government will get their way. We’ll keep you posted with any updates.