Thursday, 1 March 2012

Boris Johnson's imaginary council tax savings

Boris Johnson's claim to have saved the average household £445 in council tax, is based on comparing his record to what he imagines Ken Livingstone would have done instead.

In an email to supporters, Boris's campaign chief Lynton Crosby claims that Boris is:
"Cutting council tax, having frozen it for the last three years saving the average household £445"
They repeat this claim on their campaign website [and in Boris's 9 point plan for London]

However, Boris campaign today told me that this is based on how much they assume Ken Livingstone would have raised the GLA precept by, had he won in 2008.

They say they have calculated the average rise under Ken's previous time in office and applied it to Boris's time in office.

According to one Conservative Party website the 'saving' is calculated by:

"the cumulative impact on a band D household of the average increase under Ken Livingstone of 12.58% had it been applied between 08/09 and 12/13, including taking account of this year's cut."

So they are assuming that Ken would have raised the GLA precept by a total of 60% between 2008 and now.

However, in Ken's last four years he only raised it by less than half of that.

  • GLA precept on Band D 2004 - £241.33
  • GLA precept on Band D 2008 - £309.82 (total rise 28%)

They're also ignoring the fact that Boris's precept freeze has been substantially paid for by a central government grant which went to all local authorities that implemented a freeze.

As a result of this grant every local authority in England froze their council tax last year and most are expected to do so again this year.

Ken could also have benefited from such a grant had he won.

Of course it's possible to imagine that Ken could have instead raised his precept by 60%. 

But Boris's claim that he has 'saved Londoners £445' is just that: imaginary.

-Update- The £445 claim is now point two in Boris's "9 point plan for London"


Grateful of Bexley said...

By this logic Boris has also reduced crime by 300% based on what I think it would have been under Ken

David Boothroyd said...

The last budget agreed by Ken, in early 2008, had a precept rise of 1.95%; had that level continued for four years it would have meant a Band D precept 54p a week higher than there is now (not taking into account freeze grants, which would have brought in more).