Nine out of 10 local authorities are planning to increase charges by nearly four per cent in 2017/18. This follows an average hike of 3.1 per cent this year.
The finding was made by the Local Government Chronicle, which surveyed a quarter of the 152 top tier councils, finding 95 per cent will increase the tax by between 3.9 per cent and 3.99 per cent next April. This is the maximum hike permitted without a local referendum.
“Taxpayers will be dismayed to hear that their bills are going up as councils take the easier option of hiking taxes rather than looking for further necessary savings,” said TaxPayers’ Alliance chief executive John O’Connell.
“Since 1997 council tax has gone up by at least 58 per cent in real terms in England alone, so councils must remember that raising it even more only further increases the cost of living.”
Budgets are tight but the state continues to live well beyond taxpayers' means, so increasing taxes is not the answer. Instead, councils should look to cut out waste and give the go-ahead to much needed house building projects that would broaden the tax base and keep them in the black.
Claire Kober, chair of the Local Government Association’s resources board, defended the move, saying councils have to find a way to “offset from of the spiralling costs of social care”, which she said faces a “funding gap of at least £2.6bn by 2020, even if every council makes full use of their current flexibility to increase council tax until the end of the decade”.
This means council tax rises are unlikely to prevent the need for continued cutbacks to social care services and avoid consequences around the quality and availability of care for older and disabled people.