A campaign has been launched to persuade Haringey’s “Corbyn Council” to seek the power to make substantial council tax increases by holding a local referendum about the issue.
Correspondence seen by On London says that a group called Haringey Against The Cuts has been set up to urge the council’s majority Labour Group to adopt the policy and that its first “strategy meeting” was scheduled to take place yesterday.
Local authorities are required by law to hold a local referendum and secure a “yes” vote before they can increase council tax levels by a larger amount than set down by national government.
People interested in working on the campaign were advised to contact Roland Shanks, a member of Tottenham Constituency Labour Party (CLP). Shanks is described as having organised and chaired a recent meeting in Haringey for Labour members about implementing a “progressive council tax”. The meeting was addressed by Chris Williamson, the Labour MP for Derby North and, according to the publicity material, Haringey Labour councillor Ruth Gordon.
Haringey Against The Cuts is described in the correspondence as starting work on a strategy to get the policy “through Labour Group” and to “deliver a positive vote in the referendum”.
Labour’s 2018 council election manifesto did not include a commitment to such a policy. The involvement of Labour members in the campaign reflects continuing divisions within the council’s Labour Group and among local members about the direction taken by the council’s administration since its formation following May’s borough elections.
The only council tax referendum held since the introduction of the system in 2012/13 was by Bedfordshire’s police and crime commissioner, at an estimated cost of £600,000. A proposal for a 15.8% increase in the tax was rejected by 69.5 per cent of voters to 30.5 per cent.
Haringey has begun work on honouring a manifesto pledge to enlarge the amount of relief from Council Tax “for our least well-off residents” with a proposal to increase it from the current 80.2 per cent to 100 per cent for working age claimants with children as well as to pensioners and working age claimants in receipt of disability related benefits.
Roland Shanks has been approached for comment.