Taxpayers face extra 1% added to their bills
Councils in Kent will be able to increase their council tax bills by an additional 1% next year, the government has announced.
There is currently a cap on increases of just under 2% because of the government’s insistence that authorities who want to raise more must hold a referendum before doing so.
But in a statement today, the Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has told MPS that councils can choose to increase bills by another 1% without needing a public vote.
In the case of Kent County Council, that would allow the authority to raise bills by just under 6% although it has already said it had planned a 4% hike.
That figure takes into account the 2% increase per- mitted to help fund adult social care on top of the general increase of 2%.
For the districts and boroughs, it gives them the option of a 3% hike. The news is unlikely to go far enough for KCC. In October, the Conservative leader Cllr Paul Carter said, cuts were an “inevitable consequence” if the government failed to bail it out. It told the government it needed an additional £20m this year and the next to help cushion the impact on top of £64m savings.
Mr Javid has also announced that Kent and Medway will be among a new group of councils to trial a scheme in which they will be allowed to retain 100% of their business rates without having to hand over some of the money to central government.
The minister said he had listened to councils’ concerns over an effective cap on the council tax, which accounts for about 25% of an authority’s overall budget.
He said: “I am conscious of calls for further flexibility in the setting of council tax. While we all want to ease growing pressure on local government services, I’m sure none of us want to see hardworking taxpayers saddled with ever-higher bills.”
“This settlement strikes a balance between those two aims, giving councils the ability to increase their core Council Tax requirement by an additional 1% without a local referendum, bringing the core principle in line with inflation.”
In other measures, he said police and crime commissioners would be permitted to add up to £12 on their part of the bill. Kent is among forces currently allowed to add £5 on to average bills.
Cllr Paul Carter told the government and Minister Sajid Javid, right, cuts at County Hall were inevitable