Council Tax: Millions face a 5% increase from April

  • By Alex Forsyth
  • Political Correspondent, BBC News

image source, Getty Images

picture description,

Garbage collection is one of the services funded by municipalities

Millions of households face an increase in their council tax from April as local authorities try to balance their books.

Research from the County Councils Network (CCN) suggests that three-quarters of England’s social care councils are planning a 5% increase.

This is the maximum allowed without a local vote and would add £100 a year to bills for the average Band D property.

The government said councils should consider putting money under pressure on residents.

The amount local authorities can spend over the next year is set to increase by £5.1bn, an average increase of 9% for local authorities.

But council leaders say they have “little choice” but to raise taxes to protect services despite the rising cost of living for residents.

The CCN has analyzed the budgets of 114 of the 152 social welfare boroughs in England that have published details to date.

It emerged that 113 plan to increase council tax, with 84 proposing a 5% increase from April and just one – Central Bedfordshire – leaving the tax at the current rate.

The remaining 38 councils have yet to state their plans. Three boroughs – Croydon, Thurrock and Slough – have special permission to raise the tax above 5% after they actually file for bankruptcy.

Local authorities with social welfare responsibilities may increase council tax by up to 5% from April without consulting residents, according to an announcement in November’s autumn statement.

One authority planning an increase by the full amount, Hampshire County Council, said even with the increase it would still have to dip into its reserves to cover a fiscal shortfall next year.

The average council tax for a Band D property in England for 2022/23 was £1,966. A 5% increase would add £98 a year to bills for an average property from April onwards, although the amount will vary by location across England.

Some council leaders say the council tax system is unfair because it collects different amounts in different parts of the country. It is currently under review by Leveling Up Minister Lee Rowley.

image source, Getty Images

picture description,

Libraries are also funded by municipalities

Ministers say the amount available to councils over the next year will rise to almost £60bn, an average increase of 9.4%.

The Local Government Association, which represents more than 350 local authorities in England and Wales, says this figure assumes all local authorities will increase council tax by the maximum amount.

It has also raised concerns that a “significant proportion” of the increase consists of one-off grants, earmarked funds and a reallocation of existing funds.

Sam Corcoran, Labor leader of Cheshire East Council and deputy leader of CCN, said rising inflation and demand for social care services meant councils were setting their budgets in “the most difficult circumstances in decades”.

He added that despite the pressure on residents, authorities have “little choice” but to collect the council tax, with the alternative being “drastic cuts in frontline services” amid the financial pressures on communities.

The Leveling Up Department, which oversees council funding in England, said its increase in council funding would also result in disadvantaged areas receiving more per household.

“Our approach to council tax balances the need to provide essential services while protecting residents from excessive increases,” added a spokesman.

“We expect local authorities to take into account the challenges that many households are facing.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *