Michael Howard – 2005 Speech on Council Tax

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Below is the text of the speech made by Michael Howard, the then Leader of the Opposition, on council tax on 21st February 2005.

I believe that families know best how to spend their cash. They’ve worked hard for it and they deserve to keep more of it.

Some people say that’s selfish. It’s not. It’s about what’s right and what’s fair.

It is right to encourage people to take responsibility for themselves and their families. It is fair to reward people who work hard and save for their old age.

Low tax economies are the most successful economies. And when people pay less tax you have a more cohesive society – because we all do more not just for ourselves but for our communities.

Mr Blair promised that he had “no plans to increase taxes at all”. But he has put up taxes 66 times – often by stealth.

Hard working families have been clobbered to the tune of £5,000. Virtually every independent expert agrees that if Mr Blair were to win again – taxes will go up again.

Under Labour the Council Tax, the most painful of all Mr Blair’s stealth taxes, will hit £2,000 for a typical family.

It will be particularly hard for the older generation, people who live on fixed incomes.

Many of them served our country at her greatest hour of need, preserving liberty, freedom and Britain’s independence for future generations.

Those who have given so much must surely be given their due. The older generations have been air-brushed out of Mr Blair’s Britain, but I will stand up for them. I will increase the value of the basic state pension in line with earnings, making pensioners up to £11 a week better off.

And today I can announce that the next Conservative Government will take action to relieve the Council Tax burden for millions of pensioners.

I will give every home where the adults are sixty five and over a fifty per cent Council Tax discount up to a maximum of £500. This will ensure that five million pensioners have their Council Tax bills cut.

All our plans have been fully costed and are fully funded so that Britain’s economy will be secure for the next generation.

People deserve to be treated with dignity and respect in their old age. Because I believe that the true test of a society is the way it treats its senior citizens.

People will face a clear choice at the election: Conservatives who will increase the state pension and cut pensioners’ Council Tax or Mr Blair, who will forget them and raise their Council Tax.