A new leaflet being sent out from the Conservatives has hit what could be a new low in a campaign on council tax. That’s saying much given a continual stream of lies from Shaun Bailey.
In a letter designed to scare and with a City Hall emblem it direct readers to a Shaun Bailey campaign website.
Firstly, let’s get one thing straight. The council tax precept in London for the Greater London Authority is going up by high amounts due to specific Conservative Government policy.
What government has done time and time again is cut funds then shifted funding for services away from general taxation – generally funded in a fairer way via corporation tax and income taxes to name just two – towards local council tax. If you want to hire more police, for example, you have to do it via council tax precepts.
In London police numbers hit new lows as funding from general taxation fell by £700 million from 2010 to 2018. The Met lost 2,932 officers. Government then said to London authorities you can have more police, but you have to raise the council tax precept to hire 600 more officers. Nationwide the Government announced £970 million in funding – but then said that council tax precept increases would be needed to fund £500 million of that.
There would be lower increases in council tax if central government funds were not cut. It’s as simple as that. The Tories rebuttal is always, well, cut waste. Even if you believe there is huge waste after a decade of cuts, the numbers resulting from ever more cuts come nowhere near what is required to fund services.
We saw this again with recent discussions on transport in London. The DfT and Grant Shapps were pushing for higher council tax precepts. This latest letter from Bailey and the Conservatives regurgitates drivel about “waste”.
The letter places the blame on Crossrail delays – a joint project overseen by the Tory controlled Department for Transport and Labour Mayor – solely in the hands of Khan. Funny that. Overlooking the DfT’s role, which is widely seen as one of the most dysfunctional and incompetent government departments, is typical of Bailey. The pension issue dates from Boris Johnson’s time as mayor. Travel passes for one allocated person per TfL staff member goes back decades under parties of all types. I’ve no idea where he gets his figure from. Funnily enough, rail staff often get this too under the control of the DfT.
Council tax is one of the most unfair forms of taxation out there with the wealthiest paying relatively little more than the poorest. Those in wealthy homes in London pay vastly less than those in many other world cities. I wrote about this recently.
In New York someone who buys a $200 million mansion in Manhattan the annual property tax bill comes to $280,000. In London, the council tax bill on a £100 million home in Hyde Park is £2,842. That’s an extreme example but the discrepancy remains at homes worth £10 million or £2 million – and many of the worlds wealthy are buying homes at that value. It’s barely penny change to the wealthiest.
This places ever more pressure on the lowest and middle earners who pay a far higher percentage of income on council tax. Then Government comes along, cuts and says the only way to retain is apply more funding via council tax.
Stamp duty is similar. In 2017 foreign buyers purchasing a £1m property in London paid £73,750 in stamp duty whereas in Sydney it’s £105,970, Singapore £177,268 and in Hong Kong £300,000 on the same value property.
If Shaun Baily cared about Londoners he’d campaign for reform on council taxes and stamp duty towards international norms and ensure services were sufficiently funded. Instead he’s the biggest lackey I can recall seeing in a mayoral candidate. London has a proud history of local leaders dating back over a century battling their party colleagues in Westminster. Not now.
Don’t see this post as one in favour of Sadiq Khan. It’s a post against transparent bullshit from one of the worst political candidates ever to stand. Any Tory with credibility should be distancing themselves from this.