Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ministers Blamed for Council Tax Increases

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Ministers Blamed for Council Tax Increases

Article excerpt

Byline: PATRICK HENNESSY

HIGH-SPENDING ministers are to be blamed for this year's soaring council tax rises in a hard-hitting report by the Audit Commission.

The public spending watchdog is expected to dismiss the Government's claim that it is not primarily responsible for increases which hit 13 per cent.

Rises saw BandD homes break the [pounds sterling]1,000a-year barrier for the first time.

Ministers have tried to put the blame on local authorities - but this argument is to be blown apart when the commission publishes its inquiry tomorrow. The report is expected to highlight the shift in funds away from councils in the South, many of which are Tory- run, and towards Labour-controlled authorities in the Midlands and North.

It will say that town halls with proportionately bigger increases in government grant had lower council tax increases while those which brought in higher tax rises had smaller grant increases.

The commission found no link between the timing of local elections and council tax rises - a charge often levelled at town halls by Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott. …

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