John Whittingdale MP

19 Oct 2007 12:09:43

John Whittingdale challenges Andy Burnham on council tax

Whittingdale_john John Whittingdale MP: "What estimate he has made of the impact of the spending plans announced in the comprehensive spending review on the level of council tax in the next three years."

Andy Burnham, The Chief Secretary to the Treasury: "As my right hon. Friend the Chancellor set out in his pre-Budget report statement, we expect the overall council tax rise in the next three years to be substantially below 5 per cent."

Mr. Whittingdale: "Is the Chief Secretary aware that the Local Government Association has described the spending plans as the worst financial settlement for councils in a decade? Is not it the case that, in counties such as Essex, where demand-led social services such as social care are increasingly costly—the costs are rising far faster than inflation—the inevitable result of the settlement will be higher council tax bills, which hit pensioners and many of the most vulnerable in society hardest?"

Andy Burnham: "Under the Government since 1997, real-terms growth in the funds that central Government provide to local government has happened in every single year. That was not the case before 1997, when there were real-terms cuts in the funding to local government. The funds allocated last week fulfil the bottom-line request of the Local Government Association in its formal submission to the comprehensive spending review. It is now up to councils to keep council tax down, and, as I pointed out to the hon. Member for Bromsgrove (Miss Kirkbride) a moment ago, the Conservative party bears as much responsibility as any other party for ensuring that that happens."

More from Hansard here.