Labour could be lining up council tax raid (2024)

A Labour frontbencher has expressed frustration at the “out of date” council tax system and hinted that a tax raid on wealthy people’s homes is coming.

In a leaked recording, Darren Jones, the shadow chief secretary to the Treasury, admitted that Labour cannot openly talk about revaluing homes for council tax because no party that does so is ever elected.

He also suggested the whole council tax system “needs to be changed” in comments that have been seized on by the Conservatives.

The Tories say Mr Jones, who is likely to be second in command at the Treasury if Labour wins the election, has been “caught saying the quiet part out loud” and that Sir Keir Starmer intends to increase taxes on people’s homes, cars and pensions. Labour described it as “scaremongering nonsense”.

As Britain goes to the polls, Rishi Sunak warned voters not to “sleepwalk into a Labour super-majority” and insisted the election was not a foregone conclusion.

He said: “Telegraph readers know the Conservatives, the party of Margaret Thatcher and Nigel Lawson, will always represent their values. We will cut taxes for every generation, make sure work always pays, support families, safeguard drivers’ freedoms, secure our borders, boost our national security and preserve our precious countryside for future generations.”

A final opinion poll for The Telegraph has predicted the largest Labour majority in history, with Sir Keir’s party winning 39 per cent of the vote and the Tories 20 per cent. Another poll predicted Labour would win the biggest majority of any party since 1832, and other polls this week have suggested the Conservatives could end up with as few as 64 seats.

On Wednesday, analysts at the investment bank Citi forecast that Labour will launch a £15 billion tax raid on pensions, capital gains and inheritance if the party wins a large majority.

Tax has been central to the election campaign, with the Conservatives insisting that families will pay more than £2,000 extra under Labour – a claim that was criticised by the statistics watchdog.

Sir Keir has ruled out increases to income tax, VAT or National Insurance, but has refused to make any commitments to freeze or cut other taxes.

Mr Jones has previously been recorded saying that Labour’s green energy plans will cost “hundreds of billions” and that inheritance tax will be used to “redistribute” wealth. His latest comments were made at a coffee morning in the Bristol area on May 18, four days before the election was called.

The Labour frontbencher was asked by a voter about the prospect of council tax rises on 700,000 homes worth more than £1 million.

Mr Jones replied: “There’ll be people in this village that will pay a lot more council tax than they currently do, many of them older people. So the fact is again, I get the frustration but you live in a capitalist democracy.

“So that requires people to vote for you to have power to hold power in order to be able to do things within a framework people are willing to work within. Now you can say that the whole system is like c--p and needs to be changed.”

When he was asked about increasing council tax “for those people who can definitely afford it” and then “pour[ing] that money back into working-class people”, he replied: “And I agree with you that the council tax system is very out of date.”

He went on: “Let me be frank with you about council tax, right. Any party has ever suggested revaluing council tax has never been elected. They just haven’t.”

When the questioner pointed out that Labour had a huge poll lead, Mr Jones replied: “They won’t if they start telling everyone they have to pay more council tax.”

Neil Amin-Smith, a policy adviser to Rachel Reeves, the shadow chancellor, authored a report in 2019 calling for a national revaluation and reform programme for council tax.

‘Radical overhaul’

Ms Reeves has in the past called for a “radical overhaul of the tax system”, saying “our current system of wealth taxation isn’t working”.

At a final campaign rally on Wednesday night, Mr Sunak warned that Labour would increase taxes.

He said: “Ask your friends, ask your neighbours: can you afford to pay another £2,000 more in tax? Because that is what they will be paying if Keir Starmer walks into Downing Street in a week’s time. Are they ready for a council tax revaluation?”

Laura Trott, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, said: “Labour have been caught saying the quiet part out loud. Darren Jones admitted that talking about any of their secret taxes on the family home before the election would cost them votes.

The real risk of a Labour super-majority cannot be clearer. A vote for anyone other than the Conservatives will deliver a Labour government, intent on taxing your home, your pension, your car – even your children’s education.

“Do not give them a super-majority to lock in higher taxes for a generation.”

A Labour spokesman said: “If the best the Tories can offer on the day of the election is a recording of Darren Jones explaining why Labour has no plans to raise council tax, then it shows the utterly desperate state they are in. Any other interpretation of his words is entirely false, scaremongering nonsense.”

In a message to Telegraph readers, Mr Sunak said: “The five years ahead will be the most transformational for a generation. They bring great risks but great opportunities too if we take the bold action to seize them.

“To do that, we need a government with a clear plan to build for a brighter future for the whole country. Despite 14 years to come up with ideas, Labour have no plan for what they’d do with power, beyond hiking taxes.

“The choice at this election is between sleepwalking into a Labour super-majority that would give Keir Starmer unchecked power to raise taxes, raid pension pots and give illegal migrants an amnesty, and the Conservatives who will cut tax, grow the economy and start the flights to stop the boats.”

He added: “A vote for any other party is a vote for Labour, no restrictions and zero accountability. With such a majority they would have a blank cheque to raise tax. They would have carte blanche to expose our children to dangerous gender ideology and re-enter the EU by the backdoor, surrendering our Brexit freedoms and making us a rule-taker from Brussels once more.

“Don’t let anyone tell you the result of this election is a foregone conclusion. As few as 130,000 votes are set to determine the final outcome. So vote Conservative today as the last opportunity we may have to stop Starmer’s super-majority taxes.”

Labour could be lining up council tax raid (2024)
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