Surrey backs down on planned 15% council tax hike

7 Feb 17

Surrey County Council has abandoned plans to hike council tax by 15% citing government willingness to address the funding crisis in social care.

Under revised budget plans, council tax is set to rise by 4.99%, just below the 5% threshold above which a local referendum must be held.

But in a statement to the council today, Surrey leader David Hodge said the government had listened to and understood the county’s concerns about rising demand for adult social care.

“We are therefore willing to take a risk that a solution will soon be found to the issues that all councils face,” Hodge said.

“However, if there isn’t any progress in finding a solution to the adult social care crisis our situation will become untenable

“I believe that this year we do not need to ask residents to pay a council tax above 4.99%, which requires 3% for adult social care precept.”

Revisions to the council budget for 2017-18 have been tabled.

Commenting on Surrey’s decision, Simon Edwards, director of the County Council Network, said counties face “extremely difficult choices” in balancing their books.

“The situation for all county authorities, such as Surrey, is made worse by the historic underfunding of rural areas and higher demand for care services, forcing residents to pay higher council tax for fewer services compared to urban areas.”

Edwards called on the government to use the March budget to deliver new funding for social care.

“Alongside this, it must bring forward its review council funding to provide genuinely fair resources for shire counties.”

The Taxpayers’ Alliance said it was good news that Surrey had scrapped it plans to impose a “shameful” 15% increase in council tax.

Chief executive John O’Connell said: “But it must not go unnoticed that a council that very rarely misses a chance to raises taxes is still seeking to increase rates by almost 5%, so local residents have every right to feel that despite the announcement, their local representatives are letting them down.

“Providing adequate funding for social care is an important issue that deserves much deeper thought and a long-term solution, not a short-term and lazy tax hike on hard-pressed residents.”

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and

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