Tom Brake Accuses Minister of Forcing Councils to Increase Council Tax at Double the Rate of Inflation

November 30, 2006 2:29 PM

On Tuesday Tom Brake MP for Carshalton and Wallington and Lib Dem Local Government Spokesman responding to a statement in the House of Commons made by the Minister for Local Government, Mr Phil Woolas, accused the Minister of forcing Councils to increase Council Tax by double the rate of inflation.

In his reply to the Minister's statement Tom Brake said, "Does the Minister not accept that it is his settlement of 2.7 per cent for many authorities (including Sutton Council), combined with public sector inflation and the financial impact on local authorities of the cuts in many Primary Care Trusts and many Acute NHS Trusts, that make inevitable an increase in council tax of double the rate of inflation, hitting the poorest-often our senior citizens-the hardest?"

Sutton's PCT and Acute NHS Trusts have to make savings of £34 million which is widely expected to have a significant knock-on effect on the Council's budget.

Mr Brake went on to say, "Is it not time he stopped punishing local authorities? Instead, he should congratulate them on moving forward with the Gershon savings at a rate that central Government cannot match. He should introduce a local tax based on ability to pay, give local councils control of business rates, allow fair votes for local elections and scrap the hundreds of targets that are imposed on local authorities by his Government."

In his response to Mr Brake's comments regarding the impact of deficits in the NHS on Council budgets, the Minister had no comment.

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