The government has paved the way for council tax to potentially rise by 10% in the next two years.
Cash-strapped councils have been given the go-ahead to add 3% to council tax bills in 2017 and 2018, as long as it’s spent on social care.
Plus councils can add up to 2% more to bills each year to spend on wider council services.
It could mean a council tax rise of 10% by 2018/19, if councillors vote to bring in the upper limits next year.
Kirklees leader Clr David Sheard said: “I think it’s appalling, but we feel like we have no alternative.”
Last year Kirklees council tax bills rose by almost 4% – 1.95% for services and an extra 2% top up for adult social care.
Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said the extra council tax, plus cash from the New Homes Bonus (NHB), will mean £900m extra for local authorities over the next two years.
But Clr Sheard said the government hadn’t given them a penny of new cash for social care and they still faced £40m of cuts.
All four political party leaders said they are willing to work together in requesting a meeting with the government minister to put Kirklees’ case.
What a 10% could mean for you
(Figure doesn’t include any potential parish, fire or police precept rises.)
|Tax band/Number of homes||Current||Possible annual rise by 2018, based on 10%|
|A (83,924 homes)||£1,015.26||£101.52|
|B (34,323 homes)||£1,184.47||£118.44|
|C (31,351 homes)||£1,353.67||£135.36|
|D (16,455 homes)||£1,522.89||£152.28|
|E (11,279 homes)||£1,861.30||£186.13|
|F (5054 homes)||£2,199.73||£219.97|
|G (2087 homes)||£2,538.14||£253.81|
|H (147 homes)||£3,045.77||£304.57|
Here’s the views of the Kirklees party leaders:
Clr David Sheard, Labour and council leader
“Social care is so critical, we need to fund it but there is no new money from the government, they’re just telling us we can take more from taxpayers.
“The 10% still won’t be enough, we’ll still have to make £40m of cuts.
“We’re having budget meetings at the moment, all parties are invited so there’s nothing secret.
“The 2% rise last year didn’t even cover the rise in the national minimum wage the government brought it. They raised the wage so they didn’t have to pay tax credits, and the cost got passed on to us and taxpayers.
“The cost of care packages went up, and if we don’t fund social care then it costs the health service more.”
Clr Sheard said he’s asking for a meeting with government ministers for all four party leaders to attend.
Clr David Hall, Conservative leader
“We have to face up to the extra demands in adult social care and I think all parties acknowledge that.
“The government has given us the latitude to rise council tax by 3% and instinctively I am not thrilled with the prospect of council tax rises, because I think we have to keep it as low as possible because a lot of people are still feeling the pinch.
“But I wouldn’t like to rule anything in or out, we are having the budget discussions at the moment.
“At the end of the day there is less in terms of government grant coming our way, on the other side of the coin it’s up to the council to decide how to spend the money we’ve got and decisions will have to be made in all kinds of services.
“I quite understand people might respond negatively, it might mean an extra £100 or more at the end of the two years, so I can understand why some people might think another £10 or so a month on their bill is a lot when services are diminishing.
“That has to be weighed against the fact we have to look after older people, we have an aging population.”
Clr Nicola Turner, Liberal Democrat leader
“I think we’re in a difficult situation. We’ve had cut after cut and I don’t see how we can fund all our services without extra money.
“This needs to go beyond politics, all the party leaders are working together and we’re hoping to visit the government minister and fight this together.
“I feel we’re in a desperate situation, we’re on a cliff edge and I’m worried about this situation.
“I can understand why people who haven’t had a pay rise for four or five years will wonder how they’re going to pay an extra 10% in council tax. I think the public need to wake up and say ‘enough is enough’ and recognise the government has put us in this situation and the government needs to give us money to get out of it.
“We’ve been hit harder than the Shires councils, funding hasn’t been evenly spread across the country.
“We need to fund social care, we can’t leave people in their homes in their own mess. And just because you don’t need it today doesn’t mean you won’t tomorrow, or a family or friend won’t need it.
“It has to be there when people need it, if it wasn’t what kind of society would we be if we didn’t help people when they needed it the most?”
Clr Andrew Cooper, Green Party leader
“Social care is vital and the mark of a civilised society is how we treat people in need.
“The government is finding money for tax cuts for people on higher incomes, for Trident and HS2 and for things many people here in Kirklees will never benefit from.
“The government should get its priorities right and provide money for things that are necessary and stop taking it from local council services, stop painting us as the bad guys when we’re trying to do what’s right.
“People may think they pay their council tax and they get their bin emptied, but everybody, hopefully, gets older and everybody may one day need social care.
“We have to look after disabled people, those with personal care needs and so on. This is what I regard as a priority, the government seem to regard it as a lesser priority.”