Welsh Conservatives pledge five-year council tax freeze

The Welsh Conservatives will today announce a manifesto commitment to impose a five-year freeze on council tax if elected to government following May’s Assembly elections.

The freeze would bring an end to 19 years of unfettered council tax rises overseen by several Labour governments, which means that since 1997 rates have risen by 178%.

With council tax bills having hit Welsh doormats in recent days, Welsh families are now £794 worse off than they were in 2011/12 – when the current Labour government formed – and are today the most taxed nation in the UK on this measure. The Citizen’s Advice Bureau has labelled council tax as Wales’ biggest debt problem, with 6000 people now struggling to pay.

Welsh Labour have between 2011 and 2016 consistently refused to use over £94million in consequential funding from the UK Government, following its decision to provide grants for council tax freezes in England.

The freeze would be delivered by offering local authorities in Wales council tax freeze grants, costing an estimated £16-17million a year.

As a proportion of income, 2015 saw people in Wales paying 4.56% of their salaries to council tax compared to 3.68% in Scotland and 4.48% in England.

Leader of the Welsh Conservatives, Andrew RT Davies, said:

“For 19 years, one inert Labour government after another have been sitting on their hands while the people of Wales suffer from crippling rises in their council tax bills. This has to stop.

“Since 2011, the Welsh Conservatives have been calling for a council tax freeze, which if elected to government in May is exactly what we would do.

“The freeze would last an entire Assembly term, allowing people to keep more of the money they earn, helping to deliver financial security for hardworking families and offering a much-needed boost to local economies.

“This move forms a key part of a Welsh Conservative vision to make Wales a low tax economy, bringing an end to the state of isolation in which it currently exists, as the only nation not to have benefited from millions of pounds of government money allocated to halt council tax rises.”

Shadow Minister for Local Government, Janet Finch-Saunders AM, said:

“It is shameful that for so many years, through some of the most turbulent economic times, honest people have been forced to sacrifice so much money in paying council tax – and all the while Labour have refused to relinquish the millions of pounds allocated by the UK government to implement a freeze; something which Scotland and England have benefited from in recent years. It’s high time that Wales was put on an equal footing to the rest of the UK.”

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