Council tax would be frozen under Labour, says Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer will promise “lower taxes for working people”, as he launches Labour’s local election campaign on Thursday.

Speaking in Swindon, the party leader will try to highlight the different choices a Labour government would make if it was in power – saying he would freeze council tax for a year as a priority.

But Sky News understands this is not a solid pledge for the next general election.

Sir Keir will also repeat pledges to keep energy bills lower by insulating 19 million homes, reverse the recent decision by government to abolish the lifetime pensions allowance, and scrap the non-dom tax status to fund NHS workforce expansions and breakfast clubs at every primary school.

The leader is expected to say: “We’ve got to send a message to this government – what they’ve delivered to our country after 13 years in power is nowhere near good enough.

“We’ve got to get out there and show people the difference Labour can make. Let them see our hunger for change.

“We have to prove that this suffocating cost of living crisis, the path of decline the Tories have set Britain on, the endless sticking plaster politics, is not inevitable. There is a choice.”

Labour Party leader Sir Keir Starmer delivers a speech at the head office of the Co-Operative Group in Manchester, unveiling plans for a mission-led Labour government, with five national missions setting out his objectives for a Labour government if the party gains power at the next general election. Picture date: Thursday February 23, 2023.
Sir Keir Starmer will launch Labour’s campaign in Swindon.

The launch comes ahead of the start of the new financial year, with Labour pointing to the council tax rises coming in on Saturday.

Almost three in four local authorities are planning to increase the cost by the maximum amount allowed after Chancellor Jeremy Hunt raised the cap on council tax increases without a referendum from 3% to 5%.

Council leaders have said they have “little choice” than to make the move due to soaring inflation, rising care costs and squeezed budgets.

But a Levelling Up department spokesperson said its approach “balances the need to deliver vital services while protecting residents from excessive increases”.

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Council tax is due to rise on 1 April for many people, adding to the concerns of those already hit by the cost of living crisis.

Read more: How much will your council tax go up by?

Speaking at the launch, Sir Keir will say: “There is a choice on tax. A Tory choice – taxes up for working people, tax cuts for the 1% – or a Labour choice, where we cut business rates to save our high streets and where, if there was a Labour government, you could take that council tax rise you just got and rip it up.

“A Labour government would freeze your council tax this year – that’s our choice. A tax cut for the many, not just for the top 1%.

“So take this message to every doorstep in your community: Labour is the party of lower taxes for working people. That’s the difference we can make. That’s the choice in May. A better Britain.”

But chairman of the Conservative Party, Greg Hands, said Labour’s launch announcement “isn’t worth the paper it’s written on”.

He added: “They have no plan to introduce this if elected. They’re taking the British people for fools.

“If Labour were serious about cutting council tax Labour councils would be doing it now.”

The event comes a day after the Liberal Democrats held its own local election launch in Hertfordshire, vowing to steal votes from Labour and the Tories.

After making his entrance by driving a orange tractor through blue hay bales, party leader Sir Ed Davey said: “People are seeing the Liberal Democrat vote is a powerful vote in many parts of the country.”


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