Labour not planning council tax rise ‘at the moment’, says Angela Rayner

Angela Rayner says her party will have a lot on its plate if it wins power on July 4
Angela Rayner says her party will have a lot on its plate if it wins power on July 4 - Story Picture Agency/Thomas Krych

Angela Rayner has said Labour has no plans to raise council tax “at the moment”.

The deputy opposition leader said her party would have “a lot on our plate” if it won power on July 4 and suggested council tax bands were not an immediate priority.

She risked reigniting a row over whether Labour could increase council tax, as she failed to rule out any changes in the future.

The Tories have repeatedly accused Labour of planning to put up council tax by recalculating the current bands, which would result in tax increases for millions of households.

Labour frontbenchers have contradicted each other on the issue and Sir Keir Starmer, the party’s leader, failed to rule out a council tax increase earlier this week.

Asked if Labour could look at council tax bands by BBC Radio Merseyside, Ms Rayner said: “Well, look, you know, I think at the moment, if I’m really honest to your listeners, we’ve got a lot on our plate.

“I want to build 1.5 million homes, which I think is a huge task, which we’re going to, you know, review planning reforms.

“We’re going to look at how we can use the affordable homes grant… to really get those homes built, the new deal for working people, which is my reforms to employment that will give people secure work.

“These are our priorities, our priority is not to do anything with the council tax banding at the moment.”

Ms Rayner’s remarks were immediately seized on by the Conservatives, who claimed tax rises would be “on the cards” under a Labour government.

Laura Trott, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “Angela Rayner has confirmed big council tax rises are on the cards – just not ‘at the moment’.

“Labour are not being honest with the British public about their tax raid, but we already know the black hole in their spending promises requires at least £2,094 in higher taxes for working families across the country.”

The rebanding of council tax is one of 17 tax rises Labour have not ruled out.

Ms Trott went on to warn voters against handing Sir Keir “an unaccountable majority” as the Conservatives aim to shore up their support in traditionally safer seats in the face of successive dire opinion polls.

‘Clear choice’ on July 4

Her warnings were echoed by Rishi Sunak as he told activists at the launch event for the Welsh Tory manifesto that there was a “clear choice” on July 4.

“Continue on the plan we are on, continue to cut taxes for people at every stage of their life or the Labour Party who just want to hike up everyone’s taxes,” the Prime Minister said.

“We have seen that over the last few days. Council tax, already one of the biggest bills that most families face, we just heard today from the deputy leader of the Labour Party, it is not their plan to do it for the moment, not right now.

“But it is coming, mark my words. A future Labour government is going to whack up everyone’s taxes.”

Earlier this week, Jonathan Ashworth, the shadow paymaster general, appeared to rule out a council tax raid on middle-class homeowners by creating new bands for higher-value properties, but Ms Rayner’s comments have cast doubt on those reassurances.

Asked whether Labour would make any changes to council tax bands, Mr Ashworth had told Times Radio: “No, we’re not changing council tax bands.”

And challenged on whether that was a promise, he added: “Yeah.”

Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, had previously indicated council tax reform would not be her priority in government.

Asked about revaluation, she told the Financial Times: “It doesn’t really matter whether I think it’s sensible or not; is that where I’m going to put my political energy? No.”