Council leader hits back at think tank research

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The leader of MK Council has hit back at figures released by Taxpayers’ Alliance which showed a surge in council tax over the last 20 years.

This week research revealed the average household in MK now pays more than DOUBLE the amount of council tax than in 1996.

But Councillor Pete Marland has disputed the numbers - which he claims can’t be compared because of the change in inflation rates.

“This “research” uses figures spread over 20 years,” he said.

“In the same time between 1996 and today the rate of inflation means that the value of £100 then is about £200 today.

“Council Tax is broadly in line with this and more or less costs the same in real terms as it did in 1996.”

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of Taxpayers’ Alliance believes councils should do more to bring spending down by selling assets or using reserves - instead of hiking council tax.

He said: “Council tax is a huge burden on hard-pressed families and rates have continued to climb for decades as local authorities massively overspent.”

However, Conservative group leader Edith Bald says it’s about what people get for their money.

She said: “We have significant challenges ahead in MK and my aim will always be to give value for money.

“That’s what it all boils down to.

“People in Milton Keynes do get a lot for what they pay for.”

In 1996, the average band D Council Tax bill in England was £646.

Today the figure is £1,484, a real terms increase of 58 per cent.

Mr Marland added: “I believe in a fair tax system, delivering the best public services that are value for money.

“We understand the impact tax rises have and will always balance that with the demand for our services.

“As a public body and politicians we are accountable for our decisions and make them in a transparent way.”