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.
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.”
English authorities can raise local council tax by up to 2.99% on last year without the need for a referendum. Exceptions include: