SIGOMA Chair Comments on Council Tax Increases

Posted on March 27, 2019

After almost a decade of unbalanced austerity, councils have lost around 60p in every pound of funding they used to receive from central government and the poorest areas have borne by far the greatest burden.

This means the total funding available to deliver vital services; to care for children, the elderly and vulnerable adults, to keep our roads safe and our streets clean has been dramatically reduced by central government.

At the same time, each year the Government has also given councils additional “flexibility” to increase council tax through things like the social care precept residents will see on their bills.

With local elections coming up councils across the country have a strong incentive to keep council tax low, but today around 90% of councils, of all types and political persuasions, opted to put bills up.

The LGA has estimated that even if all councils used their council tax flexibilities to the maximum allowed, adult social care services alone still face a funding gap of at least £1 billion in 2019/20, simply to maintain existing standards of care.

SIGOMA Chair Sir Stephen Houghton said:

“Council tax raises very different amounts in different parts of the country, with some of the poorest areas able to raise the least.

The government has left us with a choice between seeing vulnerable residents suffer or hard pressed bill payers squeezed even more. This is no choice at all.

Residents should be in no doubt that centrally driven austerity is the main reason for today's 4.7% or £78 average increase.

Central government must stop shifting an unbalanced burden onto bill payers.

They must change tack to prevent a post code lottery that sees services rapidly deteriorate and deprived areas in particular forced to pay more for less.

The Chancellor must bring forward sufficient and sustainable funding at the next spending review to plug the £8bn black hole councils face by 2025."