News | Published February 22 2020

County Councils Network: Council tax rises likely across England

According to research conducted by the County Councils Network, households across the UK are likely to see council tax rises from April.

The issues faced by councils when paying social care costs were identified as a major cause, with the network saying the majority of councils which run such services will likely raise council tax by 3.99 per cent, the maximum increase allowed under current legislation.

While the government has said that councils across England will be able to access a pot of £42.9 billion next year, including £1.5 billion specifically designated for social care, the County Councils Network said councils still face a funding shortfall of £19 billion over the next five years.

It is unclear whether the new chancellor, Rishi Sunak, will provide extra support for local authorities in his first budget which is due to be delivered on 11 March.

The County Councils Network, which represents a group of 36 large local authorities, studied the published budgets of 133 of the 151 councils who run social care services. 

These budgets are due to be ratified next month and the network said its analysis showed that all 133 councils were planning to increase council tax.

Of these 133, 116 are planning to raise council tax by 3.99 per cent and all but two are proposing to include a two per cent social care precept, which will be specifically designated for care costs.

These rises, the County Councils Network calculates, will equate to an average increase in tax payments of £69 per household.

Despite these plans to increase the income of councils, David Williams, chairman of the network, said “the government must use the March budget to signal that councils will receive a further cash injection in the Spending Review.”

Without this, he argued, “local politicians will need to continue to make really tough decisions to meet rising demand for services.”

The research was immediately referenced by the Opposition, with Andrew Gwynne, Labour’s shadow local government secretary, saying: “Boris Johnson’s promise to ‘level up’ our communities has shown to be worthless. A decade of cuts has devastated local government services – but instead of providing the funding that is needed, this administration has continued to shift the burden onto struggling families.

“If we continue to fund social care like this, it will lurch from crisis to crisis, and we urgently need to see a long-term solution from the government to fix the crisis.”

In response, the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, asserted that the pot of £42.9 billion of funding was the “biggest annual real-terms increase in spending power in a decade.”

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Authored by

George Salmon
Political Editor
February 22 2020

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