Council tax in England rises by £78 for band D homes | Money

Council tax in England for people living in band D homes has gone up by an average of £78, or 4.7%, after councils up and down the country approved their budgets for the next financial year, according to government data.

Councils are warning that they are bracing themselves for a potential £3bn cut in funding, which could affect services, despite council tax increases.

The average band D council tax bill for people living in properties worth between £68,000 to £88,000 in England will go up to £1,750 for 2019-20, a report by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government revealed.

Last year the average band D bill was £1,671.

Overall councils will be collecting £31.4bn, including a £200m contribution towards social care, from residents in 23.6m homes across England.

This year has also seen 85 of the 151 authorities which fund adult social care using the option of charging a precept of up to 2% to help fund the growing demand to care for adults outside of hospital.

However 67 (or 44%) of the councils which can charge a social care precept of up to 2% of the total council tax bill are unable to do so this year, under strict rules which cap this at 6% between 2017-20.

The Local Government Association has warned that the adult social care precept rises imposed by 85 councils which will raise an extra £200m “ is not even equivalent to the estimated £290m cost to councils of paying for the increase in the government’s national living wage this year”.

The annual report into council tax bills which will be sent out by 317 billing authorities and 98 precepting authorities such as town and parish councils across England also revealed that London councils are sending out nine of the 10 lowest council tax bills. These include Conservative-controlled Westminster and Wandsworth councils and Newham, which is run by Labour.

Labour’s councillor Peter John, Southwark council leader who also chairs London Councils, said: “Council tax decisions are a matter for individual boroughs, but the increases next year reflect the huge financial challenges facing councils as they strive to serve residents and businesses. London boroughs have experienced a 63% reduction to core funding during this decade. At the same time, London’s population has grown by 1 million people and demand for council services in the capital is soaring.”

The Conservative-controlled Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead in Berkshire is the only other local authority charging less than £1,450 for an average band D bill.

In metropolitan areas, the average band D bill has gone up by £81 and the average Band D increases in unitary areas are going up by £71.

People living in the shire or non-metropolitan counties are facing an average £82 hike in band D bills.

Councils said they had been bit hard by cuts in funds from central government over the last decade and are bracing themselves for a £3bn funding gap this year.

Councillor Richard Watts, who chairs the Local Government Association’s resources board, said: “Between 2010 and 2020, councils will have lost almost 60p out of every £1 the Government had provided for services.

“Faced with a government funding settlement that assumes maximum council tax rises and such funding pressures, many councils feel they have little choice but to ask residents to pay more council tax again this year to help them try and protect their local services.”

Watts, who is the Labour leader of Islington council in north London, called for the government to “adequately fund” councils in the spending review to avert “a real risk to the future financial viability of some services and councils..”

The minister for local government, Rishi Sunak, said: “Council tax in England is 6% lower in real terms than it was when we came to government, and local taxpayers have a right to veto excessive tax increases. Residents’ satisfaction with council services remains high, despite the need to pay off Labour’s record deficit.”

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