#Crawley Observer Column, Wednesday 12th February 2014

Labour councillors will be voting to freeze Council Tax for this year and, if elected in May, a Labour council would also freeze Council Tax in 2015/16. Council budgets are stretched but by baselining funding equivalent to an annual one percent increase in Council Tax into the council’s Revenue Support Grant the cost of freezing Council Tax, while significant, is managable.

Council Tax is a ‘regressive tax’, hitting those on middle and lower incomes harder than those on high incomes. Although an improvement on their Poll Tax, Council Tax has been a bad system ever since the Tories created it.

At a time when people are finding it harder to make ends meet we have no wish to take any more out of their pockets. Nonetheless, the Tory Sussex Police Commissioner, who was elected on a turnout of only 16% and yet claims £85,000 a year, is proposing to increase her part of Council Tax by 3.6%.

But freezing Council Tax doesn’t go far enough, we’re facing a Cost of Living crisis with workers in the South East on average £2061 a year worse off since the Conservatives took over. What’s needed now is real action, locally and nationally, to ensure economic growth benefits everyone, not just those at the top.

Rather than giving millionaires another tax cut, Labour plans to offer households a helping hand where possible and reform broken markets where necessary. From freezing energy prices and capping rail fare price rises to reforming the banks and increasing free childcare, Labour is on your side.

Locally Labour councillors were successful in securing a Living Wage for council workers and contractors, and are campaigning for more Crawley employers to follow suit. Housing is a major contributor to the Cost of Living crisis and we’re working to increase affordable housing levels, to tighten the criteria so local people benefit from the housing we build and we even have plans to help private renters. There’s much Government could do to help people in hard times, but they must first decide whose side they’re on. Labour stands ready to get on with the job.

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