Councils overwhelmingly plan to impose the maximum permitted council tax increases for 2017-18, initial findings from the LGC Council Tax Tracker show.
More from: LGC Council Tax Tracker 2017
Map: Charlotte Thomas
Councils can increase council tax by up to 2% before they have to hold a referendum. From 2016-17 those with social care responsibilities may impose a further 2% increase in recognition of the relentless cost increases in this service.
Of the 17 upper-tier authorities from which LGC has so far gathered proposals, 15 are planning to make the maximum increases of 3.99% while Cornwall Council and Newcastle City Council are planning increases of 3.97% and 3.95% respectively.
All five districts for which information has been obtained are planning an increase of at least 1.9% with Basingstoke and Deane BC, Norwich City Council and Newcastle-under-Lyme BC opting to make use of the freedom introduced this year for districts to increase council tax by whichever is the greatest of 1.99% or £5 on a band D bill.
If this pattern continues English council tax payers could be on course for a second year of bumper increases. The LGC Council Tax Tracker for 2016-17 showed that of 215 proposals found, 189 councils planned an increase and only one a cut. Figures from the Department for Communities & Local Government show the average band D council tax increased by 3.1% this year, the largest rise since 2008-09.
The tracker usually begins in December or January but has been bought forward following a flurry of earlier than usual proposals.
Geoff Winterbottom, principal research officer at the Special Interest Group of Municipal Authorities – which mainly represents metropolitan and urban unitary councils – said: “Most of our members say they are planning for the maximum increase both to plug growing funding gaps and to meet some very challenging future ones.
“There may be an element of getting bad news out of the way early by starting consultations now.”
Councils conducting early consultations for 2017-18 warned residents about dire financial positions.
Kent CC said the maximum increase together with the social care precept would raise £23.7m when it needed to save another £108m and could find only £75m in savings.
Basingstoke & Deane BC said its proposed £5 increase would raise band D council tax to £111.42 when it faced a 49% cut in government grant, rising costs and low interest rates.
Trafford MBC said it must save £22m next year, and needed the maximum 3.99% rise, which would increase band D tax by £44.98 a year.
Cheshire East Council wants the maximum increase towards saving £100m over the next three years because of “significant reductions in funding from central government while facing increasing demand from those who need support from our social care services”.
All increases are still proposals at this stage.
To let us know about your council’s proposals email email@example.com.
LGC Council Tax Tracker: England set for second year of bumper rises