The Tories warned that the demands showed how Left-wing councils could be freed to hammer local taxpayers with tax hikes worth more than £200 a year if Labour seized power after the next general election. The row comes as Labour MPs and activists gather for the party’s annual conference in Brighton this weekend. Delegates are expected to make a series of calls for higher taxes on the well-off and a spending splurge on public services at the gathering.
One motion to be debated at the conference calls for all local council debts to be written off.
Tory Local Government Minister Luke Hall said: “Labour councils provide worse services but charge people more in tax, and now they want to go even further.
“Corbyn’s councils will hike Council Tax and leave hardworking people worse off.
“Conservative councils, backed by Boris Johnson, are delivering more for their local constituents while allowing people to keep more of their hard-earned cash.”
The evidence submitted to the Commons Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee a number of Labour councils had called for restrictions on council tax rises to be scrapped.
According to the documents, Labour-run Birmingham Council said: “There is need for additional flexibilities in local authority funding, for example through lifting of restrictions on Council Tax increases.”
Salford Council demanded “fewer restraints” on the setting of Council Tax.
And Sheffield Council said: “The Government could relax the referendum limits with regards to Council Tax, in order to allow authorities the ability to decide the most appropriate levels for them.”
Under current rules, councils wanting a significant rise in Council Tax must trigger a local referendum on the issue to get a mandate from voters for the increase.
But Leeds Council said: “Council Tax referendum limits should be significantly relaxed or removed altogether.
“The combined effect of the referendum limits and freeze grants in prior years has seriously eroded the buoyancy of council tax and its capacity to provide the right balance of local funding.”
Figures from the Tories showed council tax rose by an eye-watering 13% in 2003 when Labour was in government.
They claimed that, if Labour was in power and loosened the restrictions on local town hall fundraising, the annual Council Tax bill for a typical Band D property would rise by £226.
The Commons committee document also showed some Labour councils warned to scrap or slash the Single Person Discount for Council Tax, which reduces bills by 25 percent for a person living alone.
Trafford Council said: ‘“Local authorities would welcome the freedom to explore changes in Single Person Discounts.”
Scrapping the discount would leave single people living alone in a band D home more than £660 worse off every single year than under the current system, according to a Tory estimate.
At the Labour conference, a motion, submitted by South Swindon Constituency Labour Party would give a future Labour government the authority to cut councils’ debts.
The move could leave local businesses that are currently owed for providing a service to the council out of pocket.