Author: Cyril Richert
In a last minute announcement, Wandsworth Council is sending leaflets to all residents with a pledge to cut Council Tax to… zero, if re-elected.
In their latest move, Wandsworth Conservatives pledge to scrap completely the Council tax if they are still in control of the Council after the local election next month, on 5th May.
Some of you might have already received the leaflet pictured above, but we’ve heard that they aim at delivering their latest communication to all Wandsworth residents before the end of the week. In their paper, they explain:
“With huge price hikes to your energy bill and the cost of everything increasing, the Council is here to help you.
Wandsworth Conservatives have run the Council for 44 years and you have paid the lowest tax in the Country.
But we are aware this is not enough especially with the cost of living increasing nowadays.
This is why we are the only ones to pledge to scrap definitely the Council Tax next year, saving each resident hundreds of pounds!”
Their move could save £872 over the year for a band D equivalent property, which is likely to be really welcomed by many families expecting to see huge hikes in their energy bills from next week, on top of already soaring cost of living.
Ravi Govindia, leader of the Council, said:
“Wandsworth is in a unique position to be able to do this because of the way we have managed our finances and budgets over the
years. That efficiency is now reaping the benefits for our residents and it shows how we care about them and understand their difficulties with the cost of living increase. This is why we took the unprecedented decision to remove entirely the Council tax for all Wandsworth residents”.
The Tory Council claims in their leaflet that, thanks to their long experience in good financial management, providing the best services in the Country while also being debt-free (with huge reserves), they are now able to scrap totally the Council tax that they do no longer need.
They claim that the money could easily come from other private sources, mainly by encouraging more property developers to invest and build in the borough, as well as raising money thanks to more commercial events organised in parks and public buildings.
A campaign to scrap Council tax in the Daily Express
The very Conservative newspaper Daily Express has launched a campaign last Friday (exactly a week ago!) urging Tories to carry out radical reform or risk losing power to Labour. The tabloid wrote:
“Such a move could save the average household as much as £556 a year as the cost of living crunch bites. Polling shows that voters in England are strongly in favour of reforming the levy and that every constituency in the country backs a new property tax. […] Such a move could lead to bills falling for 77 percent of the country, with the average household likely to be £556 a year better off.”
A desperate move to keep control of the borough?
Wandsworth Council has always been on the lead for lower tax policies. Due to their specific financial situation, where property developers already contribute as much money to the budget as the Council tax does, they decided to move a step further and now they are confident they can scrap the tax completely for good.
In 2018, Wandsworth Labour won the majority votes across the borough for the first time since 1978 but did not get the most councillors (26 against 33 for the Tories) due to the First Past The Post voting system. This year they have concentrated the start of their campaign in February 2022 on their Pledge: Same Low Council Tax.
In their announcement Labour claimed that “in reality Council Tax only pays for a small fraction of local services – just 5% of Wandsworth Council’s budget is covered by your Council tax.”
It seems that the Conservatives agree on this and that the 5% contribution can be neglected indeed and they have decided to concentrate all their energy on one single topic: The Council Tax.
In any case, the removal won’t happened before April 2023 as the next budget 2022/23 has already been agreed last month.
The Council Tax Rebate to immediately cut the Council Tax
Last February, the government announced a package of support known as the Energy Bills Rebate to help households with rising energy bills, including rebate for households in England in council tax bands A to D, known as the Council Tax Rebate. Households in council tax bands A, B, C and D will be given a £150 rebate funded by government grants, from April.
For Wandsworth, it means that the 2022/23 Band D Council Tax should be £722 instead of £872, the lowest amount since 2005 (£750.75). And apparently, £0 in 2023/24!
UPDATE: As some of you have guessed, this is indeed an April’s fool article. See below the fake leaflet (it might give ideas to the Conservatives 😉 )
All of that is a new occasion to invite you to read our article debunking the low Council Tax argument and explaining the Council’s budget: