Prime Minister calls for council tax freeze in York during visit to Portakabin factory (From York Press)
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David Cameron calls for council tax freeze in York during visit to Portakabin factory
PRIME Minister David Cameron says City of York Council should have frozen its council tax bills to help ease poverty in the city.
Mr Cameron, speaking during a visit to Portakabin’s factory in Huntington, where he held a PM Direct question and answer session with 250 employees, said the Labour-run council had “sadly” decided not to use an opportunity provided by the Government to freeze its tax each year.
Mr Cameron’s comments came after The Press told him about our Stamp Out Poverty campaign. We told him the local Citizens Advice Bureau was now dealing with about 1,500 inquiries per annum from people struggling to pay bills for basics such as food and heating, and asked what he was going to do to help tackle such poverty.
The Prime Minister said the first thing to do was get people into work and said there are now 52,000 fewer households in Yorkshire and the Humber where no one worked.
“But it doesn’t stop there,” he said. “We have also got to ensure the benefits system works effectively for the poorest households. Then we must make sure the markets are working properly and prices are not rising fast and inflation is relatively low.”
His comments on tax were given short shrift by council leader James Alexander, who said: “The two small average increases in council tax of 54p and 38p per week over the past two years have all been directed into looked after children and adult social care services.
“This is money for services that would otherwise not have been available and without it, would’ve left many residents in a more vulnerable position. Council tax increases were a key recommendation of York’s independent Fairness Commission when it looked into ways of funding services to alleviate poverty.”
He also said the Prime Minister was “confused” if he believed council tax benefit and housing benefit cuts, along with the ‘bedroom tax’, had not had a serious impact on poverty, and said he would be inviting Mr Cameron to visit a York food bank.
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