Surrey plans 15% council tax hike

posted on 20 January 2017, updated on 20 January 2017

Surrey County Council has confirmed that it will seek to raise council tax by 15% next year in order to offset cuts to central grant. The move will mean that a local referendum is required, since it is above the cap set by central government.

In a statement issued today, David Hodge, the leader of the Conservative-led council, said that the county’s annual grant had been cut by £170m since 2010, leaving a “huge gap” in its budget.

“Demand for adults’ social care, learning disabilities and children’s services is increasing every year,” said Hodge.

“So I regret, despite us finding £450m worth of savings from our annual budget, we have no choice but to propose this increase in council tax.”

The only referendum since the cap was introduced in 2012 was held in Bedfordshire last year, when 69.5% of people rejected a tax rise proposed by the police and crime commissioner. The estimated cost of the referendum was £600,000. The Bedfordshire PCC covers a population of about 640,000, whereas Surrey has over a million residents.

There is already speculation that the council is headed for defeat at the polls. One Conservative Surrey MP told Sky News: “They'll hold a referendum, lose, and then use it for cover to cut services.”

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