Millions of families face inflation-busting council tax increases just as town halls warn of sweeping cuts to services.
An audit by the Mail has found that local authorities throughout the country are planning to increase bills in April by the maximum allowable amount of 5 per cent.
So far at least 13 English county and unitary councils from North Yorkshire to Gloucestershire have proposed 5 per cent hikes, which in some areas will add £75 to the average Band D household’s bill. For those in the top Band H homes, the increase will be more than £140.
At the same time, council leaders are warning that funding shortages will force them to make drastic cuts to essential services. The Local Government Association says councils will be forced to empty litter bins less often, employ fewer lollipop men and slash bus services because of a ‘black hole’ in their finances.
The warning is unlikely to be well received by householders, with the average annual Band D council tax bill already approaching £1,700.
Durham County Council is among the authorities increasing council tax by the maximum allowed amount in the face of precipitous cuts of the central government grant, and special legal dispensation to increase tax by 5 rather than 3 per cent to pay for adult social care needs
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, criticised town halls for putting up tax as they were cutting services
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, criticised town halls for putting up tax as they were cutting services. ‘Councils always claim they are cut to the bone, but there are still numerous examples of wasteful spending and inefficiencies that still need to be addressed,’ he said. ‘Councillors should remember that council tax is a major burden on residents and a huge contributor to the cost of living, especially for families on lower incomes.
‘Over 2,000 council employees in the country are earning over £100,000 – perhaps they could consider taking a pay cut before cutting essential services that taxpayers are paying for?’
Town halls are not usually allowed to put up council tax by more than 3 per cent a year without holding a local referendum. But in recent years they have been allowed to add an extra amount for social care. Last year the maximum allowed was 2 per cent, meaning this year’s rise can be 5 per cent in total.
All local authorities will decide this month how much to