Saturday 9 January 2021

Don’t hit families with tax hike, says Sir Keir Starmer

Sir Keir Starmer has been giving Telegraph readers the benefit of his thoughts on families (spoiler: he's in favour).

It's pretty thin stuff but I suppose he's playing a waiting game. Text below for those who don't subscribe to the Telegraph.

Sir Keir Starmer has declared Labour will become "the party of the family", as he calls on the Government to scrap an inflation busting rise in council tax in April which will hit household budgets.

Sir Keir - writing in the Sunday Telegraph ahead of a major speech on Monday - said the economy will be a number one priority for Labour in 2021 and that the focus must be on securing an economy that works for families.

The speech will have a clear echo with the Labour Government under Tony Blair and Gordon Brown between 1997 and 2010, which put "hardworking families" at the heart of its policy agenda.

Sir Keir warned the latest lockdown will hit families even harder and said that the council tax increase in April must be delayed as it will hit family budgets.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, Sir Keir, a married father-of-two, said: "The importance of family hasn’t been talked about enough during this crisis. In the last decade – and during this pandemic in particular families have too often been let down or forgotten.

"I was lucky enough to grow up in a loving family and now I have the great joy of a family of my own. It is the strength of the people we care about the most that has helped many of us cope during this dark and difficult period.

"But what about those who are having to juggle childcare commitments with working from home? Or the generation of young people pulled out of the classroom without a plan for their education?

"Or the unforgivable way those living in care homes have been treated over the last year? All of them deserve far more from a government that too often treats families as an afterthought.

"I want this to change. Under my leadership, Labour will be the party of the family. That starts with helping families through the current lockdown and protecting family budgets."

The Labour leader accused the Government of breaking its promise to do "whatever is necessary" to support councils by forcing them to hike taxes for households across Britain.

He took aim at an expected big increase in council tax from April, which will increase bills for an average Band D home rise by 3.9 per cent or £68 to £1,818 for the next 12 months, far in excess of CPI inflation which was 0.6 per cent in November.

He said: "It is absurd that during the deepest recession in 300 years, at the very time millions are worried about the future of their jobs and how they will make ends meet, Boris Johnson and Rishi Sunak are forcing local government to hike up council tax.

"The Prime Minister said he would do 'whatever is necessary' to support local authorities in providing vital services – he needs to make good on that promise.

"That’s why I’m saying to Boris Johnson: give councils the support you promised and then give families the security they need by dropping your tax increase."

Analysis shows that B and D properties in 36 council areas, including Dorset, Nottingham, Lewes and Hastings and Newark and Sherwood face rises of over £100 per year. Families living in even more expensive homes n higher bands are likely to see an even bigger increase.

Labour strategists are forecasting that one of political battle lines at May's expected local and regional elections will be families' budgets and so-called "kitchen table economics".

One ally said: "This is Keir moving onto Tory territory. Keir is a family man, he had a working class upbringing, he knew what difficult economics means for a family."


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