Livingstone plans another inflation-busting tax rise

London Conservatives have pledged to fight Ken Livingstone’s plans for another inflation-busting levy from council tax payers in the capital. Bob Neill, Conservative Leader in the London Assembly, said his group would provide “strenuous opposition” after the Mayor unveiled his Budget for 2005, which includes a £17.28 – or 7.16% - jump in next year’s council tax precept, more than four times the rate of inflation.

Despite receiving an inflated grant settlement last week as a pre-election sweetener from the Chancellor, the Mayor has still found it necessary to raise the precept to a level which will result in the average Londoner living in a Band D household having to pay £259 in 2005-06 to the Mayor’s administration.

Mr Livingstone has attempted to justify the exorbitant increase claiming it merely represents the cost of a Walnut Whip chocolate bar each week. However, the cumulative effect of the Mayor’s spending since 2000 is a GLA precept increase to London’s tax-payers of 110.3% - a rise of £136 per Band D household over the period.

Mr Neill protested: “This increase, despite being lower than in previous years, is still a scandalous admission of mismanagement by the Mayor. Given Gordon Brown’s pre-election largesse, Livingstone should be taking this opportunity to cut the GLA’s tax burden on Londoners.”

“Having already attacked Tube and Bus users with significant fare increases, the Mayor has now launched a double-whammy on Londoners with another inflation-busting precept increase that the Conservative Group will strenuously oppose as being a continued bad deal for London.”