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Labour rubbishes tax claim

The government has rubbished claims by the Conservatives that local authority restructuring will lead to Council Tax increases.

Tory shadow local government minister Eric Pickles says the White Paper scheme to restructure local government and abandon the traditional two-tier system of councils could cost as much as 345 per household in the areas of England affected by the proposed changes.

He says: “Working families and pensioners already suffering from punishing Council Tax hikes could see their bills rise by up to 345 with little likelihood of longer term savings.

“Taxpayers should not let their councils surrender to Labour’s plans for gerrymandering unless they want to open their wallets.”

Recent research by Cambridge University emeritus professor Michael Chisholm estimates that the reorganisational costs of converting district councils to unitary ones would be something like 121 per person, with “every prospect that ongoing costs would rise”.

But the Tories calculate that such a bill would actually be equivalent to a rise of up to 345 per Council Taxpaying household.

Pickles adds: “Just as with police force reorganisation, Labour’s agenda is regionalisation by stealth.”

But a spokeswoman for the Department of Communities and Local Government accuses the Tories of scaremongering.

She says: “Claims that local authority restructuring will lead to Council Tax increases are wrong, irresponsible and simply tired scaremongering.

“As ministers have made clear to local authorities throughout England on numerous occasions, any changes will need to be self-financing. This is set out in clear criteria, one of which is efficiency.”

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