Council tax increases despite government incentives

Council tax bill The government has asked councils to freeze local taxes for the third year running

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More than 40% of councils in England are planning to increase council tax this year, according to a survey.

This is despite local authorities being offered money by the government to freeze bills.

However the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa) survey suggested that the overall average increase would be less than 1%.

The Local Government Association said it had been a difficult decision for councils in the face of cuts.

Local authorities in England are being given extra money by central government for the third year running if they freeze bills.

But this time a larger number of councils are increasing council tax (41%) - last year 85% took up the government's offer.

Tight budgets

Cipfa said 102 out of 250 authorities surveyed planned to put up council tax in April, typically by about 1% percent.

Any increase over 2% percent is supposed to trigger a local referendum - but some councils are finding ways to increase it by more than that without a poll.

These councils have taken legal advice and plan to use a loophole that allows them to increase waste and transport costs by more than the 2% cap. Others have opted to put up taxes by 1.99%.

Start Quote

All councils are having to strike an increasingly difficult balance between protecting hard-pressed taxpayers and maintaining local services”

End Quote Ian Carruthers Director of policy, Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy

A small number of authorities are managing to reduce council tax by finding more efficient ways to deliver services.

Regional variations included an average 1.2% rise across Yorkshire and Humber, and a 0.1% increase in London.

Cipfa director of policy Ian Carruthers said tight budgets meant councils had to make difficult choices between tax rises and cuts in services.

"Councillors must take council tax decisions based on local priorities," he said.

"As the pressures from this period of unprecedented austerity intensify, all councils are having to strike an increasingly difficult balance between protecting hard-pressed taxpayers and maintaining local services.

"The imminent changes to local authority funding systems are bringing added uncertainty to councils' financial management and making it more difficult than ever for councillors to take the medium and longer term decisions required."

Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said the small average increase across England meant it was "a tax cut in real terms".

'Fully accountable'

A Local Government Association spokesman said: "This has been a tricky decision for councils.

"Collectively local authorities are facing a 33% cut in funding from government at the same time as the cost of providing services like adult social care is climbing through the roof.

"The council tax grant from government is very small when set against those pressures and it lasts just two years with no certainty beyond that.

"Ultimately councils have to take a long-term view. Some have clearly decided that increasing council tax is one way of meeting current costs and alleviating pressure in the longer term.

"Councils are fully accountable to their electorates for these decisions."

The Conservative leader of one council putting up tax - Canterbury City Council's John Gilbey - told BBC Radio 4's Today the government subsidy was for a limited amount of time.

This meant, he said, that when the extra money to freeze council tax ended, "you're still losing that permanent element of a tax base".

He added: "Don't forget we've got no compensation now, ever, for inflation. Our services, cost of services are going up, we're determined to keep a high standard of those services as long as possible, and also, in the end, to keep services going."

Asked about being a "democracy dodger" by increasing council tax by just below the 2% trigger for a referendum, he said that holding such a vote would cost up to £200,000.

He questioned why the government set the 2% trigger level if they were not happy for councils to go up to that figure.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 580.

    I saw a council worker putting some cement into the tiniest crack in the pavement and all around were massive cracks needing more urgent attention, wonder how much that cost us???
    and I'm sick of their attitude as though they are doing us a favour!!!!
    I pay their damned wages for god's sake!!!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 579.

    560 Soothseeker

    An elementary mistake, but you're confusing your own personal situation with Stephanie Flanders' official UK stats, which are based on an average of six million public sector workers. Her stats are an accurate (and horribly depressing) proof of the simple fact that public sector pay averages are still roaring ahead, while private sector incomes fall further behind.

  • rate this

    Comment number 578.

    A few months ago my local authority claimed savings by abolishing two of their executive posts.

    Now they have created executive assistant roles for all the remaining execs and they claim this is cost neutral because it paid for from the money saved by cutting the execs.

    A few years ago none of these posts existed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 577.

    What a surprise...the pin striped bandit thread is closed.Nice one Beeb - always alive to customer wishes.....

    Why do clowns still pretend there is something magical about the private sector and efficiency......leaving aside the litany of examples from failed privatisation....or the colossal botching by G4S A4e and ATOS...bankers bonuses still cost tax payers a fortune regardless of sector!

  • rate this

    Comment number 576.

    Adding a few extra bands would make sense.
    Why? Please explain why the value of a property has any effect on the cost of the services the Council provides. More Emergency Services/Education/Waste disposal - what? There is no justification at all for a Council Tax based on property value, everybody gets the same service.

  • rate this

    Comment number 575.

    Does anyone on here banging on about council workers pensions and salaries actually know what the average council employee's salary and pension is?

    Not sure exactly but in Cambs County Coun. I had two unqualified assistants earning about £4.5k each above the average for Cambs compared to private sector.

  • rate this

    Comment number 574.

    My local council finds great ways to spent money. Parts of their website are available in 64 languages, including Esparanto.

  • rate this

    Comment number 573.

    562/564 Adding a few extra bands would make sense.

    In principle, the fairest method would also include adult occupancy rates.
    Perhaps, it's time to merge joining councils and at the same time breakdown the services and separate out Care, Education and Housing costs. Radical changes will be required as we no longer have the funds to carry on the way we are.

  • Comment number 572.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • rate this

    Comment number 571.

    I am writing comments that are not getting added. There must be a glitch or maybe I am banned from HYS!

  • rate this

    Comment number 570.

    Local councillors may not be as stupid as they look. A rise now means the rises they will have to bring in when the Government bribes cease will not look as large.

  • rate this

    Comment number 569.

    These parasites are gnawing at the life blood that feeds them, pay cuts are what these people employed by the only AA1 rated employer in the UK should get. How dare they consider themselves in need of more money when the rest of society struggles, they should shed jobs take cuts & stop getting ridiculous last salary pensions

    Just because they make the rules doesn't mean they should profit from it

  • rate this

    Comment number 568.

    I will never forget the image of Council worker with a leaf-blower blowing the leaves into a heap only for a gust of wind to blow them all over the place again.

    Councils are a vast waste of money.

  • rate this

    Comment number 567.

    Does anyone on here banging on about council workers pensions and salaries actually know what the average council employee's salary and pension is?

  • rate this

    Comment number 566.

    Pious Pickles the first should take a hint and stand down.
    Big central govt should be legislating on areas where it can have a positive impact like for example changes in legislation on tax avoision.
    My local tory council is as inept as the Westminster mob - they have inflicted parking charges on a dying town centre whilst continuing to pay themselves salaries - same old tories...

  • rate this

    Comment number 565.

    Stephanie Flanders' blog reveals public sector pay is roaring ahead - 9% rise in earnings per head over the last two years. Austerity has been, essentially, an entirely private sector phenomenon.

    - Meanwhile back on planet Earth

    My wife ( a nurse) hasn't had a raise since 2009.

    Pay in both sectors is lower in real terms than in 2003.

    Unless of course you happen to be a millionaire

  • rate this

    Comment number 564.

    The reason why some community charges will rise is that those who own £2 million+ mansions pay virtually the same as those renting 3 bedroom terraces!
    What difference does the value of a property make to the services provided by the Council? Basing Council Tax on the value of property cannot be justified in any way.

  • rate this

    Comment number 563.

    @560 and 556

    Utter Nonsense!!!

    Myself and my colleagues have NOT had a pay rise in 4 years!!!!!

    Roaring ahead LOL......that is laughable putting it politely!!!

    I stay here because of the current climate. The private sector is struggling. At least I have a job. We were discussing council tax and my pay freeze is entirely relevant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 562.

    I wonder what we would unearth if ALL councils were made to publish each and every item of expenditure And I mean everything, right down to the last paper clip. -

    Great idea that should waste a few million on unnecessary paperwork.

    The reason why some community charges will rise is that those who own £2 million+ mansions pay virtually the same as those renting 3 bedroom terraces!

  • Comment number 561.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?


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