Council tax is set to soar above £2,000 for the first time ever as millions of families face fresh financial agony under new Government plans.
Rishi Sunak and his Chancellor Jeremy Hunt are poised to lift the decade-long cap on increases, amid warnings that hundreds of local authorities could go bust.
Households will face an average £100 hike in council tax per month under the new plans to allow town halls to help fund social care.
Homeowners in the top Band H could even pay as much as £200 extra, with their bills surpassing £4,000, the Telegraph reports.
Rises of more than 2 per cent are currently banned unless they win approval in a local referendum. In recent years town halls have been allowed to raise an additional 1 per cent to pay for social care, making a total of 3 per cent.
But a government source said ministers were looking to relax the rules next year and let councils hike taxes by a total of up to 5 per cent. The source said that giving town halls more ‘flexibility’ to raise money would ease the pressure to increase central funding.
‘Councils are facing pressure on social care, and the social care levy, which would have raised money to help, has gone,’ the source said. ‘So there is a case for allowing councils more flexibility where they can make the case for it locally.
‘But we would still be talking about increases below inflation – no-one is talking about returning to the sort of rises we saw under Labour.’ A 5 per cent rise on an average Band D bill of £1,966 would cost an extra £98 next year.
The average household will be forced to fork out more than £2,000-a-year on council tax for the first time under Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt’s (pictured together) new plans
Mr Hunt (pictured yesterday) is poised to lift the decade-long cap on council tax increases, amid warnings that hundreds of local authorities could go bust
The move is likely to be announced by Mr Hunt in Thursday’s Budget. But Whitehall sources said wrangling was continuing within Government over exactly how much flexibility to allow.
Some ministers are resisting the move, arguing that it would pile pressure on families already facing the worst cost of living crisis in decades. But councils are pushing for the freedom to set their own bills without constraint, arguing that their ability to provide core services is being eroded by inflation.
The Local Government Association has warned that councils face a £3.4billion funding gap next year ‘just to maintain services at pre-Covid levels’. It told the Treasury that to fill the gap using council tax alone, bills ‘would have to increase by well over 10 per cent next year’.
A survey by the County Councils Network last week warned that almost four-fifths of authorities fear they could go bust next year without further funding.
A five per cent rise on an average Band D bill of £1,966 would cost an extra £98 next year
Council tax referendums were introduced by the coalition government in 2012 following years of inflation-busting rises under the previous Labour administration.
Sources said the referendum requirement would be kept in place, but only for increases of 5 per cent or above. It comes as a survey due out today by care association Adass reveals that 94 per cent of social care directors believe their service does not have enough staff or resources to get through the winter.
Adass chief executive Cathie Williams said the sector ‘desperately’ needs emergency funding, noting that £500million pledged in September to support hospital discharges has not yet been allocated.
A survey found that more than nine in ten social care directors felt their area did not have enough staff or funding to get through winter as they call on increased resources to prevent people dying early.
But the hike in council tax will be the latest cost-of-living blow for struggling families and pensioners, who are reportedly coming out of retirement due to economic fears.
in better news, the PM hinted that pensions triple lock will remain as a Government policy. Mr Sunak (pictured arriving at the G20 summit in Bali) said: I am someone who understands the particular challenge of pensioners. They will always be at the forefront of my mind.’
It comes as millions of households face a cost of living crunch in April, with average energy bills rising by £900 as the Government’s cap ends.
Britons are also facing soaring food prices and high fuel costs which have helped push inflation up to more than 8 per cent, while homeowners face higher mortgage costs due to rising interest rates.
And last week, in particularly grim news, the Bank of England warned the UK faces its longest recession since the Great Depression.
But in better news, the PM hinted that pensions triple lock will remain as a Government policy. Mr Sunak said: I am someone who understands the particular challenge of pensioners. They will always be at the forefront of my mind.’
Elsewhere in Mr Hunt’s Autumn Statement, 700,000 families are at risk of losing child benefits by 2028.
The Chancellor is set to freeze the £50,000 threshold for six years despite rampant inflation.
The move is part of a wider freeze on thresholds – including on inheritance, capital gains and pension lifetime allowance – which will see millions paying more tax for years.