Starmer warns of council tax ‘bombshell’ facing families

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer called for more support for families and criticised Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak’s approach to council tax.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer

Families face a £1.9 billion council tax “bombshell” in April, Sir Keir Starmer warned as he criticised the support on offer from the Government.

The Labour leader criticised Boris Johnson and Chancellor Rishi Sunak over council funding, warning authorities would be forced to hike taxes to cover the cost of the pandemic.

He also called for the continuation of the temporary £1,000-a-year increase in Universal Credit beyond April.

Labour analysis suggests that a 5% council tax rise – permitted after Mr Sunak signalled the go-ahead during his Spending Review for council tax and the social care levy to be hiked by 2% and 3% respectively – for those living in a band D property would see bills increase by an average of £90 in April.

Sir Keir said: “We’re in the worst recession for 300 years.

“Yet the Prime Minister and the Chancellor want to hike council tax – a £1.9 billion bombshell that lands a bill of around £90 on every family.

“They plan to cut Universal Credit – taking £1,000 a year from millions of families and pulling another 200,000 children into poverty.”

Coronavirus – Mon Jan 11, 2021
Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer delivered his speech to an online audience (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

He said the Government “isn’t just incompetent” but also “has the wrong priorities”.

“This is the Government that gave Dominic Cummings a £40,000 pay rise, but won’t pay our carers a decent wage.”

He said the Prime Minister’s “repeated delay and incompetence” had cost lives and jobs.

Sir Keir called for everyone to play their part in the rollout of the vaccine that is “now the only way out of the darkness”.

Coronavirus – Mon Jan 11, 2021
Sir Keir warned of a £90 council tax bombshell for households (Stefan Rousseau/PA)

The “biggest peacetime project in our history” must see a “24 hours a day, seven days a week” vaccination programme.

Calling for everyone to play their part, he acknowledged the work done by former prime minister Tony Blair on the coronavirus response.

Sir Keir, who has been in contact with the former Labour leader, said: “Tony Blair has done a lot of work on the vaccine and the pandemic, and I know he has been talking to the Health Secretary.

“My message to everybody is to step up and do what we can.

“We have all got a responsibility to ensure that that vaccine is delivered as quickly and as safely as possible.

“I think the more advice and support we can get from anyone, the better in this.”

Sir Keir also warned that lockdown restrictions may have to be tightened, expressing concern about nurseries remaining open, and suggested people would be surprised that house viewings were still going ahead.

“We’re in this extraordinary situation where having got to at least as serious if not a more serious position than of March last year, we’ve got lesser restrictions in place and we need those in place as quickly as possible,” he said.

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