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BEECHAM WARNS GOVT AGAINST RAIDING COUNCIL TAX

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As the government puts the final touches to the budget in a fortnight's time, Jeremy Beecham, chair of the Associat...
As the government puts the final touches to the budget in a fortnight's time, Jeremy Beecham, chair of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, has warned the government against using increases in council tax to finance income tax reductions.

He said: 'We know that the government is now taking the final decisions on Kenneth Clarke's budget and spending plans for next year. If, as widely forecast, there are to be reductions in income tax, the public should look to see how they will be financed.

Income tax cuts must not be at the expense of:

-- council tax payers - the government's existing plans will increase council tax by £3 per week for the average household, more could be in prospect; £3 per week is equivalent to 1.2p on income tax

-- school children, the elderly, the victims of crime - services for these people need more resources just to stand still, yet the budget is likely to leave them with less.

-- The construction industry - there will be cuts in much needed capital investment, for homes schools and roads, leaving the construction industry in the doldrums just when it needs a boost.

'Cost shunting for short term political advantage would be in no-one's long term interest.'

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