Council leaders are warning of deep cuts to services despite nearly every local authority in England planning to raise council tax in 2017.
Increases of up to 4.99% are expected across the country, but libraries, bin collections and other services will still face funding gaps. The Local Government Association says the cost of care for increasing numbers of elderly people is forcing up bills. The government insists it is giving more money to councils. The Department for Communities and Local Government said local authorities had been given a “historic” four-year settlement, giving them the certainty they needed to plan ahead, with almost £200bn available “to provide the services that local people want”.
All councils in England can raise council tax by 1.99% in April without having a local referendum. The 151 social care authorities can increase bills by an extra 3% as long as that money goes on social care. The Local Government Association (LGA) says 147 of these have already agreed or are planning to raise the extra money. And three-quarters are set to introduce the maximum hike. However, the LGA says further cuts will still be needed as councils are being pushed “perilously close to the financial edge”. Warwickshire County Council leader Izzi Seccombe told the BBC: “To continue it is really looking like we’re cutting into the bones of services that matter to people. “It’s not just social care. Things like roads, highways, bus services which are subsidised, libraries, access to leisure centres, waste services, children’s services as well.”