Thomas Bridge 31 March 2015

Labour planning to retain Coalition’s council tax rise cap

Labour planning to retain Coalition’s council tax rise cap

Council tax caps could remain in place if Labour takes power in the General Election, the party’s local government secretary has revealed.

Hilary Benn said he plans to retain the Coalition’s controversial limit on local levy rises, which requires councils to launch a referendum on any tax rises of 2% or over.

However the Labour MP also pledged to deliver a swathe of new freedoms to town halls including complete retention of business rates and London-style powers over transport.

He also emphasised his party’s commitment to abolishing the ‘bedroom tax’, which he branded ‘fundamentally unfair’.

When questioned about removing the cap on council tax rises, Benn told the Yorkshire Post: ‘No we are not going to do that, we are not going to lift that.

‘Finance is very tough for people,’ he added. ‘Councils know that is the case, they know how little money some of their constituents have got.

‘No, we are not going to change those arrangements but we are going to give that greater fiscal freedom in the form of the 100% retention of business rate income.’

Benn also vowed to review council funding, warning that town halls in the most deprived areas had been hit hardest by funding cuts.

‘The Government says “we’re all in this together and those with the broadest shoulders should bear the biggest burden”,’ he said.

‘If that is the case, why have you done the very opposite when it comes to allocating the money?’

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