English councils set to hike taxes by average £81
The Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy found English council taxpayers will see an average 5.1% increase.
Householders in England face the steepest rise in council tax for 14 years, adding an extra £81 to their bills, a survey has found.
The annual study by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (Cipfa) said the planned hikes show the pressure council are under to make ends meet.
Average band D bills in England are set to rise by 5.1% from £1,591 in 2017/18 to £1,672 in 2018/19.
In Wales, households face a £72 rise from £1,420 to £1,492.
The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) insisted it recognised the pressures on services but also the “importance of keeping bills down”.
Cipfa chief executive Rob Whiteman said: “This sharp rise in council tax across the country reflects the enormous financial pressures many local authorities are currently under.
“Local government has made by far the biggest efficiencies in the public sector since 2010, but now it feels like crunch time, with the consequences of earlier funding cuts really beginning to bite.”
He added it was “time for an honest conversation about what services councils should realistically be expected to deliver”.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid announced in December a 1% increase to 2.99% in the maximum council tax hike permitted without triggering a local referendum.
On top of this, England’s 152 social care authorities – the county and unitary councils and metropolitan boroughs which take the lion’s share of the tax – are allowed a 3% precept to help fund adult care.
The Cipfa findings showed wide variations between different parts of England. The average band D equivalent in the North East is now £1,799, whereas inner London is £1,194.
Police and crime commissioners can raise their share of council tax by up to £12 without the need for a referendum.
The survey found that 90% of those who responded were planning increases of between £11.97 and the maximum £12.
It feels like crunch time, with the consequences of earlier funding cuts really beginning to bite Rob Whiteman
Cipfa’s survey was based on 290 responses to questionnaires sent to authorities in England and Wales – a 65% response rate.
Of the 276 respondents from England, 263 will be increasing their tax.
An MHCLG spokesman said: “We recognise the importance of keeping bills down for hard-working people, but also the pressures on local services.
“Council tax will remain lower in real terms next year than it was in 2010 and we continue to ensure that council taxpayers can veto excessive increases via a local referendum.
“As part of our finance settlement we are delivering a real-terms increase in resources to councils over the next two years, more freedom and fairness, and greater certainty to plan and secure value for money.”
The Cipfa survey comes after a study by the Local Government Association found the total amount of council tax paid in England is set to rise by more than £1 billion next year – but that would fail to offset cuts of £1.4 billion in funding from central government and additional expenses from the national living wage.