Ruffley highlights threat of new supplementary council tax on local Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket residents

Monday, 7 February, 2005

Government plans for higher taxes in local neighbourhoods

David Ruffley MP this week attacked Government plans to introduce a supplementary council tax, on top of existing local bills. Under the proposals announced by John Prescott, new 'neighbourhood improvement districts' could charge local residents a hefty top-up on council tax bills.

The tax would be modelled on Government proposals for 'business improvement districts', where higher business rates can be charged on local firms in a specific area for up to five years. Yet in Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket, council tax bills have already risen by over £550- more than 80%- since 1997, equivalent to 9 times the rate of inflation.

David said:

'Across the country, council tax bills have gone through the roof since Labour came to power, with typical households in Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket now paying over £550 more a year more in council tax. The way to make our neighbourhoods better places to live isn't even higher local taxes on hard-working families and pensioners. We need value for money and less waste.

'Can we really trust Mr Blair's Government not to cut Whitehall funding if a supplementary council tax were introduced ? Many councils have already seen their central funding for neighbourhood wardens disappear after three years- leaving council tax bills to fund them. And we are seeing with planning fees how the extra money that St Edmundsbury and Mid Suffolk councils can raise in fees is to be offset by less government cash for council planning departments.

'Labour's plans for 'improvement districts' have the words 'stealth tax' written all over them.'