Council tax to rise in 90% of English authorities

27 Mar 17

Nine out of 10 local authorities in England will increase their council tax bills from April, a survey has found, reinforcing findings from CIPFA released earlier in March.

Residents in some parts of the country will see their bills go up by as much as 5%, as councils make use of new powers to top up their charges with a specific 3% levy for social care.

This year is the first time that upper-tier councils have been able to add 3% to bills for social care – last year the maximum was 2%.

According to today’s report compiled by the Press Association only 22 of England’s 353 local authorities are freezing council tax in 2017-18, while just one – East Hampshire – has said it is cutting the amount.

The figures show a contrasting picture to 2012-13 when 90% of councils froze or cut council tax with just 35 choosing to raise it that year.

Earlier this month, CIPFA’s annual council tax survey predicted an average rise of 4% – the biggest in a decade. Ninety five per cent of eligible authorities were also planning to levy the social care precept, CIPFA found.

Claire Kober, chair of the Local Government Association’s resources board, said: “Councils continue to have to make difficult decisions about which services are scaled back or stopped altogether to plug funding gaps. Amid these ongoing funding pressures, many councils find themselves unable to turn down the chance to raise desperately-needed money for local services.

“Council tax rises are unlikely to prevent the need for continued cutbacks to local services. Cost pressures associated with homelessness and temporary accommodation, and children’s and adult social care, remain particularly acute.

“Plugging growing funding gaps must be a priority for government to allow councils to continue to deliver much valued local services.”

However the Department for Communities and Local Government said councils had “almost £200bn available to them over four years” and should continue to work on delivering savings to protect front line services.

The study also found that of the 152 local authorities able to charge the 3% social care levy, more than two thirds are opting to introduce the full amount.

In addition, 73 of these authorities were also raising the basic council tax bill by the maximum permitted of 1.99% meaning a total increase of 4.99%.

Earlier this year Conservative-run Surrey council threatened to hold a referendum on whether to increase council tax by 15% to fund social care – sparking a political row.

The council shelved the plan in February, prompting questions over whether the council had been promised a sweetvheart deal.

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