Michael Gove has vowed to ban “slacking” councils from bringing in four-day working weeks in an attack on “skiving” town hall staff.
The Levelling Up Secretary revealed on Saturday (September 30) that he is looking at changing the law to prevent local authorities from adopting a four-day week.
Town halls including Lib Dem-led South Cambridgeshire, where a four-day week pilot is being carried out until March 2024, would face a funding cut if they were to flout such a ban. Labour-led Norwich is also mulling a move to a four-day working week.
A four-day week is when people should do all their work in 80 percent of their contracted hours for 100 percent of their pay.
Mr Gove told The Sun on Sunday: “People who pay council tax work five days a week or longer.
“They deserve 100 percent of the service, not 80 percent. The idea everyone should be slacking in this way at the expense of hard-working taxpayers is completely wrong.”
The Lib Dems’ Housing, Communities and Local Government spokesperson, Helen Morgan MP said: “It beggars belief that whilst in the midst of a housing crisis, new protections for renters stuck in Parliament, and a levelling-up agenda that has utterly failed to deliver, this is what Michael Gove thinks is the right thing to be expending his energy on.
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“This Government has truly lost all sense of perspective. The needs of the British people have been completely ignored as from the Prime Minister down, the Government is looking for the latest headline to chase.
“Not policies that will get us out of this cost of living crisis or focussing on the need to rebuild our NHS. The priorities of the Conservative Party are in completely the wrong place.”
Labour has been approached for comment.
Mr Gove’s comments came ahead of the Conservative Party Conference in Manchester where Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has vowed to set out his long-term vision for Britain.
Mr Gove added that while it was important that people who could work from home during the Covid lockdowns, doing so was not a “lifestyle shift”.
He said “slacking, quiet quitting, all the rest of it” is just a way of allowing some people to maintain their quality of life at the expense of others.
The Levelling Up Secretary appeared bullish and determined on the airwaves on Sunday (October 1) as the Tories appear to be reducing Labour’s lead in the polls.
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Mr Gove told Sky News on Sunday morning that he would like to see the tax burden reduced before the next election.
It comes after analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies revealed the Tories will have presided over the biggest set of tax rises since at least the Second World War, between the 2019 general election and the next.
Although Chancellor Jeremy Hunt has played down the prospect of tax cuts in November’s Autumn Statement, he is likely to have a Budget before the next election, expected in 2024.
Mr Gove suggested the focus should be on cutting taxes on work such as income tax or national insurance.
He said: “My own view is, wherever possible, we should cut taxes on work. In other words, we should incentivise people to work harder, we should make sure they are better rewarded for the enterprise, the effort, the endeavour that they put in.”
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Challenged over Mr Gove’s call for pre-election tax cuts, the Prime Minister told the BBC: “As I’ve said, the best tax cut we can give people is to halve inflation.”
Mr Sunak said as a Conservative he wants to cut taxes, but he defended his prioritising inflation-busting measures.
He said: “Change may be difficult, but I believe the country wants change and I’m going to do things differently to bring about that change.
“You saw that last summer (during the Conservative leadership contest) when it came to this question. I said the most important priority we faced was to bring inflation down.
“It’s inflation that’s putting the prices of things up, inflation that’s making people feel poorer, the quicker we bring inflation down, the better it is, and that’s why it’s the right priority, and we are making good progress.”
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