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Unison Conference 2024 A wealth tax should be introduced to prevent the collapse of council services, Unison conference hears

THE next government should introduce a wealth tax to prevent the widespread collapse of council services, the Unison conference heard today.

Moving a composite motion on the nationwide crisis in local government, Glen Williams denounced the cumulative effect of Tory cuts, which are now making “already poor areas with poor people pay more in council tax to receive less services when they have less money.

“We’ve got councils declaring effective bankruptcy, including Birmingham and Nottingham,” he added.

Mr Williams said the union’s Labour Link had arranged meetings at which Unison had made the case to the party for additional funding and it would continue doing so after the general election.

“A good start would be fair taxation of wealth,” he said. 

“Taxing capital gains tax at the same rate as income tax would generate £12-16 billion. Not simply a slogan to tax the rich, it’s a simple way out for local government.”

Linda Boyer of Unison’s North-West region said an incoming Labour government should be pressed to restore local government funding to at least 2010 levels.

“This crisis is a direct result of 14 years of misguided Tory government policy,” she emphasised, with central government grants cut by 40 per cent in that time. 

Kamal Yousaf from Birmingham gave a stark illustration of what that meant in service terms, with the number of non-teaching support staff in the city’s schools having fallen from 24,000 to 10,000 in the same period.

Jean Thorpe from Nottingham said the city had already lost 1,200 council jobs, with another 500 currently under threat, as delegates briefed the conference on the reality of council cuts in their own areas.

Northern region’s Nicky Ramanandi warned that cuts prompt a vicious cycle of worsening deprivation, saying: “The correlation between cutting services and the rise in those seeking them in clear” — but this continued because ministers “don’t care about those who use services and don’t care about those who provide them.” 

Delegates agreed to press Labour for emergency funding to plug councils’ funding gap — something shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves has opposed — and to bring back a centralised funding formula that takes account of the different pressures councils face.

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