Sir Keir Starmer branded Rishi Sunak “Mr One Percent” as the Labour leader launched his party’s campaign for the May local elections.
With Labour hoping to pick up seats in the May 4 polls in England, Sir Keir sought to contrast its approach with the Tories’ decision in the Budget to ease pension taxes for the well-off with the scrapping of the tax-free lifetime allowance cap.
Speaking in Swindon, Wiltshire, he said: “Across the country, everywhere I go, here in Swindon, communities have ambition. They want change. They just don’t have a Government that matches their ambition. And they’re not going to get it from this Prime Minister, Mr One Percent.
“One percent of asylum claims from those arriving on small boats actually processed. One percent of the fraud that was lost during Covid actually recovered. Naught percent of the windfall tax that could have helped working people actually collected.
“And his new tax policy? Same as his old tax policy, a tax cut for the richest 1% whilst working people pay the price.”
A Labour government would freeze council tax bills this year, Sir Keir said.
“Not a penny more on your council tax, not a penny more than the bill you paid last year.
“And that is a tax cut for the 99% of working people compared with a tax cut for the richest 1% that we get under the Tories,” he told supporters.
The move would be funded by extending the windfall tax on the profits of the oil and gas giants.
The Conservatives have noted that Labour is not committing to freezing council tax if elected at the next general election, just saying it would do so now if hypothetically in power.
Shadow chancellor Rachel Reeves earlier told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I wish there was a general election tomorrow and then we could do this now and we could freeze council tax this year.”
But she did not set out details, saying there is at least one more budget before the next vote “so we’ll have to see what the public finances look like”.
Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said: “Labour town halls charge higher council tax, and a Labour-run Whitehall would do the same.
“When Labour were last in government they doubled council tax and their stealth tax on your home would hike up taxes – just as they are doing in Labour-run Wales.
“Only the Conservatives are taking action now to provide immediate relief to families.”
Ms Reeves also said Labour does not plan to increase capital gains tax, despite deputy leader Angela Rayner appearing to suggest rates were too low.
The Prime Minister last week released a summary of his tax affairs, showing that his tax rate was about 22% because most of his earnings came from capital gains which are taxed at a lower rate than income.
It prompted Ms Rayner to hit out at a tax system “in which the Prime Minister pays a far lower tax rate than working people”.
But on Thursday, Ms Reeves argued against raising the tax.
She said: “I don’t have any plans to increase capital gains tax.
“There are people who have built up their own businesses who maybe at retirement want to sell that business.
“They may not have had huge income through their life if they’ve reinvested in their business, but this is their retirement pot of money.
“And we also have said we want Britain to be the best place to start and grow a business.”