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Tax battle

By February 7, 2012News

With a Mayoral election in the offing, it’s no surprise that the various candidates have begun setting out their respective stalls about what they’d do if they won the ballot.

This week, the various candidates have been arguing over taxes in a grubby attempt at one-upmanship.  Firstly, Red Ken announced that he plans to slash fares by seven per cent if elected, starting with a cut on the entirely arbitrary day of October 7th (after the Olympics, you note.  Ken will take the cash while there are millions of extra people in the capital, which will presumably help to fund the cuts.  Crafty beggar.)

In retaliation, Bozza has announced that he plans to cut Council Tax by one per cent in a move that he claimed “was a break from the ‘contempt for London taxpayers’ shown by his rival Ken Livingstone.”

According to the London Evening Standard, ‘the Mayor said he plans to cut the “precept”, which funds Transport for London, the fire authority, the Met Police and the Olympics, by one per cent in the next financial year.’  [Cutting a fund that supports the Olympics when it will be over less than half way through the financial year seems a stroke of genius to us, by the way].

Drawing some battle lines ahead of the election, Boris said “This represents a decisive break with the past. The end of an era where arrogant politicians showed contempt for London taxpayers.

“I won’t take a penny off Londoners more than I need to deliver what is vital for their economic well being, quality of life and the future success of the city. Every penny that does not do that should be back where it belongs – in the pockets of our people.”

While it might have a significant political impact, experts suggest that the cut will have a nominal effect on London households.  Indeed, the Evening Standard reports that ‘allies admitted that the financial savings of Mr Johnson’s tax cut will not be significant – less than £5 per year for a Band D household’.

Lib Dem candidate Brian Paddick – back after his successful run in 2008 (ahem) – went for the ‘sarcastic’ approach.  “Whilst any reduction in council tax is welcome I’m not going to spend too long working out how I would spend my extra £3.10 a year,” chirruped the no-hoper Lib Dem.

So, the financial gloves are off.  Who do London voters trust more?  Ken pledging apparently unsustainable but populist fare cuts or Boris who seems to be trying to take a more responsible stand?

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