Tory council asks rich residents to pay voluntary 'guilt tax' to help young people
A Conservative-run council in one of London's wealthiest areas is asking rich residents to pay a voluntary contribution on top of their council tax to help fund extra services.
Westminster council said it would be writing to 15,000 of its richest ratepayers asking them to top up the local authority's coffers, according to the Sunday Times.
It comes as councils all over England are preparing to raise council tax to make up a shortfall in central government funding.
Charges are set to go up in 95% of councils, according to the 2018 State of Local Government Finance research.
Earlier this week Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell claimed the Government were using councils as "human shields" for spending reductions.
Westminster says an additional £800 contribution from wealthy residents could help provide work placements for young people, beds for rough sleepers and extra visitors for lonely elderly people in the area.
The leader of the council, Nickie Aiken, said she was responding to requests from rich homeowners who wanted to pay more.
"We are giving people the option. It is an opportunity to invest in their neighbourhood," she said.
A consultation on the "guilt tax" found that rich residents were largely in favour of paying more, with 55% of those who own properties worth over £10m backing the change, and 52% of those whose homes are valued at between £5m and £10m in favour.