Sir Keir Starmer has called for the government to reverse its decision last year to effectively raise council taxes, while casting Labour under his leadership as the “party of the family”.
Starmer said the “importance of family hasn’t been talked about enough during this crisis” and that the country’s households deserve “far more from a government that too often treats families as an afterthought”.
Rishi Sunak’s November spending review gave all local authorities the power to increase council tax bills by two per cent without holding a referendum.
Local authorities that manage social care institutions are able to hike council tax by a further three per cent.
This means the average council tax will rise by more than £100 and the measure could bring in as much as £2bn for the Treasury.
Writing in the Telegraph, Starmer wrote: “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.”
It comes as mayor of London Sadiq Khan announced on Friday that his share of council tax will increase by nearly 10 per cent from April in order to keep funding public transport services.
Under the proposals, the average bill for Band D will increase by £2.63 a month – £31.59 over the whole year.
Of the increase, £15 will go towards funding free travel on Transport for London services for young people and people aged over 60.
Another proposed £15 will go to the Metropolitan Police, while the final £1.59 will go to the London Fire Brigade.
Khan said: “With a lot of hard work, I have been able to limit the council tax increase this year to less than half of what some expected, in the face of huge pressure from government ministers to increase council tax to pay for public transport and policing in the capital.