The Daily Telegraph

Councils putting up bills by up to 5pc to fund social care

- By Sophie Jamieson

NINE out of 10 local authoritie­s in England will put up council tax next month, some by as much as 5 per cent, a survey has found.

Residents will see steep increases in bills as councils take full advantage of new powers to top up their charges with income ringfenced for social care.

Only 22 councils are freezing council tax in 2017-18, while just one – East Hampshire – has said it is cutting it.

Bills are starting to land now on residents’ doormats now before the start of the new financial year.

The figures, compiled from all 353 local authoritie­s in England, show a volte-face from 2012-13, when nine out of 10 councils froze or cut council tax.

The Local Government Associatio­n said the findings suggested councils were “unable to turn down the chance to raise desperatel­y needed money for local services” and warned increases were unlikely to halt more cutbacks.

But the Department for Communi- ties and Local Government said councils had “almost £200 billion available to them over four years” and should be working to deliver “sensible savings to protect front-line services and keep bills down”.

The survey also found that of the 152 local authoritie­s able to raise bills by up to an extra 3 per cent to fund social care, more than two-thirds are implementi­ng the full amount.

Around half (73) of these councils are also raising basic council tax by a maximum of 1.99 per cent, making for a total increase of 4.99 per cent.

Breckland council in Norfolk reported the highest percentage rise (6.6 per cent), but said it had the lowest level of tax in England.

Ferris Cowper, leader of East Hampshire council, said he hoped it would encourage other councils to “think completely outside the box”.

He said East Hampshire had been able to make savings in part by making large investment­s in commercial property.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom