Allowing 15% hike is ‘protecting Council Tax payers’ says Gove

Inside Croydon’s petition to Parliament against the decision to allow councils, including Croydon, to increase Council Tax above the 5per cent cap without first conducting a referendum – as is usually required by law – achieved the 10,000-signature threshold on February 19.

At that point, the Government was obliged to provide a formal response to the petitioners.

The decision to allow Croydon to hike its Council Tax by 15per cent without a referendum was taken by the Department for Levelling Up, where the Tory Secretary of State is Michael Gove.

It took the Government 18 days to issue its response. The response eventually appeared after lunchtime on Thursday, less than 24 hours after Tory Mayor Jason Perry had bullied through his council budget, including his 15per cent Council Tax hike.

Obviously, just a coincidence.

Like it is a coincidence that Gove’s department has withheld all the reports from its improvement and assurance panel since December 2021, but we have been told to expect the release of at least one of those reports on Monday, two days after the deadline for councils to submit their “balanced” budgets.

Providing the response to the petition, in a superb example of Whitehall marking its own homework, was Gove’s Levelling Up department, the same people who had facilitated Mayor Perry’s budget-busting 15per cent Council tax hike.

Our petition made two core points.

“The public should not have to pay for a financial crisis which is not their fault through Council Tax increases above the 5per cent cap, unless these are approved through a public referendum.”

And, “Many people will be placed in dire financial circumstances during the cost of living crisis if their local authorities are allowed to raise Council Tax by more than 5per cent.”

The response admits that the Conservative Government has broken its manifesto commitment of “continuing to protect local taxpayers from excessive Council Tax increases”.

And they also say, “When taking decisions on Council Tax levels, local authorities should recognise the pressures many households are facing.” Which, obviously, Mayor Perry did not.

This is that Orwellian response in full:

The Government takes annual decisions on Council Tax referendum thresholds. The Government set higher thresholds for three councils which are in financial difficulty and asked for this flexibility.

Suits himself: Michael Gove

Decisions on local authorities’ tax and spending are a matter for local discretion, taken by local elected representatives, subject to the views of local people. The Government’s manifesto commits to continuing to protect local taxpayers from excessive Council Tax increases.

The Localism Act 2011 allows the House of Commons each year to set a threshold in relation to Council Tax increases, above which, a local authority in England must obtain the backing of local residents in a referendum to set a higher amount. The Council Tax referendum provisions are not a cap, nor do they force councils to set taxes at the threshold level.

The local government finance settlement confirmed referendum thresholds of up to 3per cent for core Council Tax and up to 2per cent for the adult social care precept in 2023-2024.

Following consideration of their exceptional local circumstances the Government decided not to oppose the request for additional flexibilities from a small number of authorities.

Legislation also requires councils to operate their own local Council Tax support schemes tailored to local requirements to assist people in financial hardship with their Council Tax.  The Government has announced £100million of additional funding for local authorities to support the most vulnerable households in England with their Council Tax bills in 2023-2024. This is in addition to the unringfenced funding provided through the settlement which helps to reduce bills for 3.8million claimants

This approach strikes a fair balance between providing authorities with the flexibility to generate income for local services and protecting Council Tax payers.

When taking decisions on Council Tax levels, local authorities should recognise the pressures many households are facing.

Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities

By today, the two separate petitions had attracted more than 42,000 signatures. That’s 10,000 signatures more than Jason Perry got votes in the Croydon mayoral elections last May.

The petitioning continues.

If we manage to get to 100,000 signatures on the parliamentary petition, it will get the matter of how the Tory Government has broken its manifesto commitment and how Croydon’s Tory Mayor has ignored the worst cost of living crisis in a generation discussed in Parliament.

Please sign the petitions – both of them. Please share them both widely.

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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10 Responses to Allowing 15% hike is ‘protecting Council Tax payers’ says Gove

  1. So we have 15% Perry acting like Herod and crucifying people in a cost of living crisis and, invisibly pulling the strings behind, Gove acting like Pontious Pilate and washing his hands of the whole thing. Well, I suppose it is coming up to Easter after all!

  2. derekthrower says:

    Yet again the Localism Act is revealed for the arbitrary nonsense it is. So much for the wishes of the local population to express it’s choice when it doesn’t suit Central Government. What is the value of this legislation in assisting localism? All it has achieved is the ruination of many Local Authorities.

  3. Sarah Bird says:

    Michael Gove’s response beggars belief . Why should Croydon residents pay for the very clear failings of the council ?Where is the demand from the Government that the money is chased by the appropriate agencies ? Time for Michael Gove to meet the residents and explain his actions forthwith and like the council and its officers to be accountable..

    • George Wright says:

      Good point Sarah. And I don’t see Gove etc paying 15% more on anything fir the Billions misspent by Central Government on PPE and business scans during the Covid crisis.

  4. Emma says:

    Love the choice of photo. The dude is out of touch I scrolled through his page the other day. He’s ridiculous

  5. Jessica Holsworth says:

    Says Gove – the snake who sold the the public a stream of lies about Brexit and manipulated Johnson into supporting the cause. Do not underestimate the damage this little fucker is capable of reaping. Perry is another dumbo who has been taken in by the little piece of shit.

  6. Alfred says:

    And don’t forget the utterly useless Croydon CEO, Katherine Kerswell was foisted upon our borough by Gove’s department.

    She has been demonstrably useless at her job and has clearly been passing information back to government (her employer) about Croydon that has clearly contributed to Gove accepting the 15% hike.

    Why don’t the good people of Croydon smell the stench emanating from Katherine Kerswell? She is a government plant who is doing fuck all for the residents of this borough – it’s the reverse, in fact – she is causing more harm.

  7. Anthony Miller says:

    Judicial Review anyone?

    I’d chip in

  8. George Wright says:

    I see the ‘don’t liker’ has been down the list. I’d respect them more if they at least posted a point of view but I suppose that is par for the course with underhand Tory machinations

  9. Peter George says:

    Nothing short of legalised theft by this disgusting council.
    Shame on everyone of them for the cowardice of our so called representatives .
    I will remember each and every one of them next time we vote.
    As for Michael Gove, his departments statement about protecting council tax payers
    is utter bullshit. shame on them all.

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