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Conservative Mayoral Candidate Susan Hall’s Council is Hiking Tax by the Maximum Legal Amount – But She’s Skipping the Vote

“How exactly are you helping by increasing your part of council tax?” Susan Hall once asked Mayor Sadiq Khan

Susan Hall photographed after being selected as the Conservatives’ London mayoral candidate last July. Photo: PA/Alamy

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The council that London Conservative mayoral candidate Susan Hall sits on is set to hike council tax by the maximum legal amount. 

At a Harrow Council meeting tonight (Thursday), the majority Conservative council is in line to put up council tax by the maximum 5%, raking in an extra £7.69m for the local authority’s coffers. 

Susan Hall sits on the council and chairs the planning committee. She told Byline Times she would not be attending the vote – the first full council meeting she’s missed in 18 years, according to the mayoral hopeful. She would not comment further. 

Hall has frequently attacked Sadiq Khan for putting up council tax at a Greater London Authority level, as have Conservatives across the capital.

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Susan Hall has frequently hit out at Sadiq Khan’s council tax rises (the Mayor levies a London-wide charge for GLA-linked bodies like the fire brigade, police and Transport for London)

Hall is also in line for a bumper 35% increase in her councillor allowance. Her large increase is because she chairs the licensing committee, which Byline Times understands meets just once a year. Her ‘special responsibility allowance’ is currently £2,500 a year, but is set to rise to £4,382. 

A Labour source said: “I’m sure she would practise what she preaches” and oppose the council tax rise. 

The councillor allowance hikes are backed by the opposition Labour group. 

Speaking to Byline Times, Cllr Susan Hall AM said: “I’m not going to comment on [council] tax…It’s the first meeting I’ve missed in 18 years. I can be forgiven for missing one.” 

On the councillor allowance hike, Hall added: “I’ve got thoughts on that, of course I do, it’s just who I share them with.” 

She discussed the “dislike” for Sadiq Khan on the doorstep, particularly in outer London over the expanded Ultra Low Emissions Zone charge for the most polluting vehicles.

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Hall previously liked a string of tweets praising ‘rivers of blood’ MP Enoch Powell and branding the capital “Londonistan” under Muslim mayor Sadiq Khan.

Hall said: “I’ve never seen anything like it. [On ULEZ] lots have finance on cars that don’t comply. You scrap it and still owe the money. The price of second hand cars has gone up hugely. ULEZ is a lot of money paid by some of the poorest people.”

Council tax is also a regressive charge, with hikes typically hitting the poorest hardest. 

In a budget document ahead of the meeting, Harrow council officials write: “Harrow remains one of the lowest funded Councils both within London and nationally. The Council does not benefit from large reserves compared with other London Boroughs and is at the lower end of the lower quartile for reserve balances held. 

“Over the last 10 years, up to 2024/25, the Council’s revenue support grant has reduced from £50.5m to £2.2m. The Council does receive other grant funding to support services, in 2023/24 this totalled £375m. However, these grants are all ring fenced to areas of activity and cannot be used to support the core budget, for example the Dedicated Schools Grant of £152m. 

“The Council does not receive specific funding to meet demographic growth and demand led pressures. In addition, inflation has increased significantly creating unfunded budget pressures. 

“For many years Council Tax has been increased to just below the referendum limits and full use has been made of the Adults Social Care Precept, both of which were in line with central government expectations. 

“The impact of this is that the Council is heavily reliant on Council Tax to fund its core services. In 2023/24 78% of the Council’s net revenue budget of £196.4m is funded from Council Tax.” 

The Conservative council budget note also complains that the cost of the 2023/24 pay rise for staff is £7.2m, and “therefore this left very little funding available for other demand pressures that have emerged in adult services, and other inflationary pressures.” 

Councillor allowances however allowances appear to be rising above inflation. 

The budget council tax hike can be viewed here.

The new ‘special responsibility allowance’ rates for 2024/25 – compared to £2,179 and £4,879 in 2022/23

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Josiah Mortimer also writes the On the Ground column, exclusive to the print edition of Byline Times.

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