Dominic Cummings’ waived council tax bill could have funded more than 23,000 free school meals in County Durham, figures from the Evening Chronicle show.
The Prime Minister’s chief adviser and his family escaped years of unpaid taxes – up to as much £50,000 – on two homes built in breach of regulations.
Instead of the charges being backdated to when the two properties were built, new charges for the properties – on the outskirts of Durham – will come into effect from the start of this month.
Durham County Councillor John Shuttleworth said: “If it was anybody else, they would be getting charged and it would be backdated, or they would be getting taken to court.
“It just proves there is two sets of rules, one for them and another for everyone else. It is not right.”
Free school meals
Following a decision by MPs not to extend the free school meals initiative, the Evening Chronicle crunched the numbers on the difference Cummings’ unpaid tax could have made in the north.
A primary school meal in County Durham costs £2.10 meaning 23,809 meals could be paid for by Dominic Cummings’ council tax bill.
Around 16,500 school children are eligible for free school meals in County Durham.
The North East’s Conservative MPs – with the exception of Richard Holden, who didn’t vote – all voted against Labour’s motion to extend free school meals to children over school holidays until Easter 2021.
Labour MP Kevan Jones, who represents North Durham, said: “Many of my constituents are angry at the Valuation Agency’s decision not to backdate the council tax bill on properties in which Dominic Cummings has an interest which were built without planning permission in Durham council tax pays for local services.
“The Government’s decision last week not to fund free school means that cost falls on local council tax payers.”
Tax is “not an optional extra”
Easington MP Grahame Morris said council tax is “not an optional extra” and that the local authority would’ve received £50,000 over 12 years had the Cummings family “played by the rules”.
He added: “That money would cover the cost of providing free school holiday meals to the 3,605 children in my constituency who had food taken off their table last week by the Conservative government advised by Dominic Cummings.
“It is wrong and unfair that children in East Durham will go hungry, while individuals in privileged positions can write off their council tax.”
Durham MP Mary Foy has also called for the money to be repaid.
She said: “I think it’s right to question the Valuation Office’s decision on the property and I know many of my constituents agree.
“People in Durham expect a level playing field, and too many times now Dominic Cummings has appeared to be above the law.
“At a time when school children are going hungry, the arrogance of his actions is even more striking.”