Council Tax Will Rise by a Total of £1 Billion This Year- Is It Enough?
- Total amount of council tax going up by more than £1 billion
- Warning that hikes won’t cover rising costs
- Cuts still being made to local services
The total amount of council tax paid in England is set to rise by more than £1 billion next year, as councils will take advantage of the new freedoms to increase bills by up to 5.99%.
This means that individual council tax bills could go up by £100 a year.
But the Local Government Association, LGA, warned that the hikes will fail to offset cuts of £1.4 billion in funding from central government and additional expenses from the national living wage.
Despite increases in council tax bills, households across the country will see cuts to services like parks, children’s centres, libraries, and pothole repairs in 2018.
Members of the Latest Deals community have already noticed their council funded services being cut back or stopped.
One member, Jane, said, “I’m about to have an essential bus service removed as their is not enough money in the pot. It’s going to leave a lot of people with no way of getting into town. It’ll also mean that students can’t get to the local college. I’m not saying an increase in council tax will help everyone, but it puts more money into local services like this one.”
Emma agreed, saying, “Loads of my local libraries have been closed or handed over to community groups. In one case, an education charity had to take a library over.”
The Communities Secretary, Sajid Javid, announced in December an increase in the maximum that council tax can rise by without triggering a local referendum, going up to 2.99%, in an attempt to try and stop more services being cut.
As well as this, councils are allowed to add 3% on to council tax to help fund adult care, which means, if they wish, councils can raise it by 5.99% in total.
Despite these increases, the LGA said that the predicted extra money will be “wiped out”, as there will be another £600 million more needed to cover increases in the national living wage that councils will have to pay.
It is due to this gap in funding that means that current services may still be cut back.
Lord Porter, the Chair of the LGA, said, “Since 2010, council tax bills have risen by less than inflation and other key household bills.
“Faced with severe funding pressures, many councils feel they are being left with little choice but to ask residents to may more to try and protect local services.
“The extra income with help to offset some of the financial pressures, but many councils are beyond the point where council tax income can be expected to plug the growing funding gaps.
“Councils will have to continue to cut back services, or stop some altogether to plug funding gaps.”
From talking to the Latest Deals community, we found that many were happy to pay a bit extra in council tax if it meant that services would stay open.
Francesca said, “A library is so much more than books and internet access. There’s grup and education there, all for free! You can even just pop in for a coffee and a chat. It really helps lonely people who don’t have anyone. Coming in the library every day just for a chat and human interaction can make a difference for someone. It would be a shame to take that away.”
What do you think? Would you pay more in council tax if services stayed open? Let us know in the comments.