LGA launches campaign for council tax reform

The Local Government Association (LGA) has launched a lobbying push, led by chairman Sir Jeremy Beecham, to reform the council tax system as the Government prepares to introduce council tax capping for the first time in two years.

In a two-pronged approach, the LGA is also embarking on a media relations drive to deliver the message that councils have limited responsibility for setting their own council tax levels and that the LGA should play a key role in delivering and managing local taxation.

A spokesman said: ‘The Government should transfer responsibility to us. We will accept blame or praise for these decisions. But we are not asking for money, it is not a begging-bowl approach.’

The campaign is targeting the broadsheets and the LGA is also lobbying the Government through the Balance Review Group, chaired by the minister for local and regional government Nick Raynsford.

The group examines council tax and the Government’s contribution to local services and boasts a representative from every government department.

Soaring rates have rocketed council tax to the top of the news agenda. Successful lobbying from the CBI and other business interest groups have contributed to decreasing business rates, and consequent rising council taxes, according to the LGA.

An LGA spokesman said: ‘Capping may look attractive to government because it talks about capping council tax and not spending, and then it walks away from the consequences of the spending cuts.

‘There needs to be a system where the public understands who is responsible for spending. In the current financial system we only control one quarter of our budget.’

The LGA has pledged to undertake an ongoing campaign to prevent council tax capping and will act on individual councils’ behalf if and when Whitehall moves to curb local spending.

The Government will announce which councils will be capped on 10 May.

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