Barnet Council’s £1.5million council tax cut dismissed as ‘cynical election ploy’

Leader of the Council Richard Cornelius describes his council as "tax cutters not tax increasers". P

Leader of the Council Richard Cornelius describes his council as "tax cutters not tax increasers". Picture: Nigel Sutton - Credit: Nigel Sutton

Barnet residents will have their council tax bills cut by 1 per cent next year with a two-year freeze imposed thereafter.

The council claimed the £1.5million cut, which it admitted would save the average household little more than £1 per month, would be financed from the £126million savings it says it’ll make from outsourcing council services over the next 10 years.

To be implemented just one month before next year’s May council elections, council leader Cllr Richard Cornelius dismissed accusations that the tax cut was an election ploy but admitted savings to households were not significant.

He said: “While a 1 per cent cut is small it shows that we are bearing down on costs.

“We’ve made enough savings via the One Barnet programme that we can meet our budget and distribute the money saved back to the community.

“I think it shows a direction of travel and shows that we are tax cutters and not tax increasers.”

Cllr Cornelius, who announced the measure yesterday, said the move would see average households save £14.16 per year and would signify the seventh year in a row that the Conservative administration had not raised taxes.

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Cllr Alison Moore, leader of the Labour opposition group, suggested the council was trying to dupe Barnet residents who, she claimed, would find any savings they made clawed back by other charges and fees.

She said: “It’s a case of giving with one hand and taking away with the other.

“We’re talking about households saving little more than £1 per month and at the same time we have seen a range of fees and charges increase on council services.

“It’s a cynical election ploy that also looks to divert attention away from the many mistakes the council have made, including damaging judicial reviews and the fiasco over the car parking charges.

“The additional challenge is that these are savings made on the promises penned in a contract.

“We have no proof that Capita will be able to deliver on their contract, and it’s a massive leap of faith.”

Responding to the accusation that the move was to “bribe voters”, Cllr Cornelius proceeded to downplay the amount his council was saving households as “not a big enough sum of money to be considered a bribe”.