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Howard: Lower taxes and value for money from Conservatives

Speech at launch of the Conservative 2005 local elections campaign

"Today I am setting out how we are going to help families.

Apparently, Mr Blair is talking about helping families too.

That's it - more talk.

He has spent the last eight years talking but he has failed to act on what matters - fighting crime, school discipline, cleaner hospitals, controlled immigration, and lower taxes.

And while he has talked families have been struggling - last year, for the first time in a decade, their average incomes fell thanks to Mr. Blair's stealth taxes.

And the most punishing of all Labour's stealth taxes has been the Council Tax.

For most families, their home is their most valuable asset.

It's the bedrock of their security - both financial security and personal security.

But Mr. Blair has used people's homes as a means of taxing them by stealth.

Most people will have just opened their Council Tax bills with horror.

My message to them is clear: you don't have to settle for this.

You can make a difference.

You can vote to stop the relentless rise in Council Tax.

Today we are publishing our Manifesto for the local government elections on May the fifth: it's all about lower taxes and local accountability.

Conservatives have a simple five point action plan to keep your Council Tax down.

First, we will ease the burden on councils, so they can keep Council Tax down, by abolishing unnecessary and costly regulations.

Second, we will ensure fairer funding from Whitehall, by introducing greater transparency over grant distribution.

Third, we will deliver a fully-funded settlement for local government, with an above-inflation increase for local councils, and significant increases for schools, police and health and social services.

Fourth, we will stop Mr Blair's next stealth tax dead in its tracks by cancelling revaluation.

Based on what happened in Wales, this will save seven million homes in England from paying more - £270 more, each and every year, for the typical household.

Fifth, if you are 65 or over, and live alone or with adults also aged 65 plus, we will halve your council tax, saving you up to a maximum of £500. Millions of pensioners will benefit.

So the choice is clear on May 5th.

Voting Labour threatens to push many typical Band D Council Tax bills to over £2,000 after another five years of Mr. Blair.

So a vote for Labour's candidate is a vote for higher taxes and more waste.

Voting Liberal Democrat means a typical hardworking family in England, with two earners, would pay more than £600 on top of their existing bill every year under their local income tax.

So a vote for the Liberal Democrats would hit millions of hard-working families - especially where the mother has a job.

Voting Conservative brings lower council tax bills. For a typical hardworking family on Band D, Conservative councils cost £74 a year less than Labour and £80 a year less than Liberal Democrats.

That's why a vote for the Conservatives will give you lower taxes and value for money.

It's all about fair play - if you do the right thing, government should do the right thing by you; if you save, government should reward you; and if you help yourself, government should help you.

A Conservative Government will reward hard working families who do the right thing - who play by the rules, work hard, save to buy a home and put money aside for their retirement."

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