Sentamu hails 'fantabulous' plan for voluntary tax to pay for homeless and lonely

The Archbishop of York has congratulated Westminster council on its plan to encourage the wealthiest residents in what is one of the country's richest boroughs pay a voluntary 'tax' to help young and homeless people and those who are lonely.

Dr John Sentamu, who takes an interest in local government and inequality, said of the plans: 'May all of us who are willing to do this be given the facility to do so. Thank you, thank you - you are fantabulous!'

Harry FarleyThe Archbishop of York John Sentamu is the Church of England's second most senior leader

His comments came after it emerged that Westminster council will write to those living in the area's most expensive properties to make an extra voluntary contribution on top of their council tax to help pay for local projects.

After a consultation in which more than 400 people said they would support the initiative, it is expected to be given the green light.

While council tax rates, which are among the lowest in the country, have been frozen, letters will be sent to homeowners in the highest council tax bracket – band H – asking them to pay an extra £833.

The funds raised will go to projects aimed at helping young people, rough-sleepers and the lonely.

The council leader, Nickie Aiken, said that the move reflects a desire among some wealthier residents to pay more. 'The outcome of our consultation reflects the kind and generous spirit of Westminster residents,' Aiken said. 'It also confirmed what I had heard from people I had met on the doorstep that those in the more expensive homes are willing to contribute more to community projects. The scheme is most popular among residents of the most expensive homes.'

A handful of the borough's famous residents have also voiced their support. DJ Tim Westwood said: 'Asking people who have done well to contribute a little extra seems a very good idea to me. I also like the fact that young people will be among those who benefit from any money raised.'

Margaret Mountford, who appears in the BBC reality TV show The Apprentice, said: 'In principle this is a very good idea, but obviously we need to see the detail. There are clearly areas of need in the borough where money raised could be spent.'

The move by Westminster council comes after Dr Sentamu last month called in an interview with the Guardian for a 'top-up' system whereby people could choose to pay more tax.

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