Readers in the capital might have had a leaflet from mayoral candidate, Shaun Bailey, through their door this week.
As part of his ten-point plan to give the city a “fresh start”, the Conservative hopeful says he will be:
“Saving each London household £307 – by reversing Sadiq Khan’s 10% council tax hike”
Mr Khan has raised one element of the overall council tax bill – the “mayoral precept” – by 9.5 per cent this year, which Mr Bailey’s campaign is rounding up to 10 per cent.
The latest City Hall budget documents show that this increase in the mayoral precept will cost families an extra £31.59 over the coming twelve months.
So where’s the £307 figure from?
Mr Bailey’s campaign told us they reached it by assuming that Mr Khan would raise the mayoral precept by 31 per cent if he wins again – because that’s how much it rose over his first five years in office.
Mr Bailey’s plan is to reverse this year’s 9.5 per cent rise and freeze the precept for the rest of his term.
According to Mr Bailey’s team, Londoners “save” £307 with the Conservative candidate compared to the hypothetical scenario they’ve modelled for Mr Khan’s second term.
But there’s a catch: Mr Khan has never proposed such a policy.
On current plans, there’ll be an increase of 1.99 per cent between 2021-22 and 2022-23. That adds an extra £7.27 to Londoners’ tax bills.
Critics of the incumbent Mayor would point out that he never said he would raise the precept by as much as 31 per cent over his first term – and yet that’s still what happened.
And it’s worth noting that City Hall budget documents leave open the possibility that rates might increase above 1.99 per cent in future years if the government in Westminster allows it.
But this is all speculation. And it’s hard to square it with the fact that Mr Bailey’s campaign has come up with the £307 figure based on a policy Mr Khan has never said he would pursue.
None of these details are set out in the election leaflet, which leaves readers with the incorrect impression that this year’s ten per cent tax hike will cost Londoners hundreds of pounds.
A spokesperson for Mr Bailey told FactCheck: “Sadiq Khan has increased council tax every single year he’s been mayor and by more than 1.99% in all but one year. So to claim that he will now stick to his commitments is ludicrous, given he has no record of doing so.
“Shaun Bailey will save Londoners £307 by reversing the latest 10% increase in council tax and by freezing it for the remainder of his term. This is the fresh start that Londoners need — and a stark contrast to the broken promises of Sadiq Khan.”
Update, 7 April 2021
An earlier version of this article included a statement from Shaun Bailey’s campaign that said he would “save Londoners £307 a year”. Mr Bailey’s team have since confirmed that this was an error. Their claim is that the savings would total £307 over the course of his term.