Police also facing the pressure, as most forces opt for maximum allowable increase
Householders across England are set to see an average council tax increase of £81.05 (5.1%) – the steepest hike in 14 years – according to CIPFA, the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.
CIPFA’s annual council tax survey also identifies the yawning gap between the amounts paid in different parts of the country. The average band D equivalent in the North East is now £1,799, whereas inner London is £1,194.
Police and crime commissioners in England, who set their own precepts, have almost all (90%) gone for increases of between £11.97 and the maximum allowable increase of £12, announced by Home Secretary Amber Rudd on 19 December as part of the police settlement for 2018/19.
This comes at a time of increasing pressure on police funding and follows the report late last year on efficiency from Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Constabulary and Fire and Rescue Services which, while highlighting the financial challenges for some forces, stated that further efficiencies could be made.
Rob Whiteman, CIPFA Chief Executive, 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.
“The spending freeze now in place for Northamptonshire, and inevitable cuts to come, will be a test case for what the minimum services can be that a council is required to deliver. But looking further across the country, children’s and adult social care are the main focus of resources for many town halls, set this against the phasing out of government grants and widespread use of reserves, it is clearly time for an honest conversation about what services councils should realistically be expected to deliver.”
Notes to editors
CIPFA’s Council Tax 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 council tax.
Excluding the 3% maximum allowable increase to adult social care, across all English authorities, 71% are taking their maximum allowable increase without triggering a referendum.
Council tax referendum rules
English authorities can raise local council tax by up to 2.99% on last year without the need for a referendum. Exceptions include:
- Authorities with adult social care responsibilities can raise an additional 3% without the need for a referendum via the adult social care precept.
- Non-metropolitan districts can raise local council tax by 2.99% or £5, whichever is greater, without the need for a referendum
- The police and crime commissioners can raise by up to £12 without the need for a referendum.