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Public 'willing to pay more council tax' for certain services

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The public would pay extra council tax or voluntary one-off levies to fund specific local services, according to thinktank Localis.

Polling by YouGov for Localis’s Monetising Goodwill report found the five services people would pay more for in council tax were, in order: public health, fire, police, adult social care and child social care.

The most popular subjects for voluntary one-off levies were: helping older people to live independently; support for homeless people; improving disability access; repairing potholes; reducing loneliness and reducing anti-social behaviour.

Councils have in recent years only been allowed to increase council tax – other than precepts for social care – by 2% unless a higher increase is sanctioned by a local referendum. Only one referendum has been held – in 2016 by Bedfordshire’s then police and crime commissioner Olly Martin (Lab) - which rejected the proposed increase. 

In December, the then communities secretary Sajid Javid allowed local authorities to raise core council tax by a further 1% in 2018-19.

Localis interim chief executive Jonathan Werran said: “The agenda for improving local services and policy outcomes will fail if the agenda focuses solely on people paying more tax.”

He said councils needed greater fiscal flexibilities including an end to the council tax referendum requirement, while residents “deserve a right to choose by voting on spending packages funded by hikes in council tax charges”, and the allocation of any voluntary levy.

Paul Dossett, head of local government at Grant Thornton UK, said: “We need to break down the centralised system of government funding and encourage the continued devolution of powers from Westminster to local areas.”

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