United Kingdom

Council tax set to soar by four per cent as the government struggles to fund social care

Families are facing inflation-busting council tax rises this year thanks to the Tories’ failure to fund England’s creaking social care system.

Up and down the country, town halls have started proposing increases of up to 4 per cent – the maximum allowed – piling huge pressure on household budgets.

One local authority, Rutland, wants to put up bills by £68 for the average Band D home. It means that families in the county’s most expensive Band H homes will pay £136 more.

Boris Johnson promised a solution to England's social care crisis from the steps of Number 10 on his first day of office, however, he has so far failed to release details of his plan

There is increasing disquiet about the amount of money people with dementia have to pay towards the cost of their care

Critics accuse ministers of using council tax as an elderly care ‘stealth tax’ because they do not want to take responsibility to fund it through central Government.

Boris Johnson promised a solution to England’s social care crisis from the steps of Number 10 on his first day in office. But no plans have yet come to light, leaving local authorities no option but to charge residents more to fund elderly care.

Ministers last week gave Police and Crime Commissioners the power to put up Band D bills by £10 on top of what town halls are charging. John O’Connell, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘These rises will put many households under even greater financial pressure.

‘The tax burden is already at a 50-year high and it isn’t fair to keep asking taxpayers to dig even deeper into their pockets.’

The Daily Mail is campaigning for an overhaul of the social care system to stop elderly people with dementia having to pay huge fees for their care.

Caroline Abrahams of Age UK, said: ‘The problems facing social care are fundamentally national and demand a determined response led by central Government. It is unfair to expect councils and local residents to pick up the tab.’

Just before Christmas, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announced that councils would be given the power to increase the levy by 2 per cent without having to put the matter to a local referendum. On top of this, he said county and unitary councils would be able to add a further 2 per cent specifically to pay for adult social care.

Local authorities across England have started discussing how much they want to put up council tax by – and almost 30 have already said they want to increase it by the maximum 4 per cent. Others have not yet made a decision.

In fact, bills will include further increases, because levies for district councils and other authorities will be added. District councils can put up their part of the bills by 2 per cent or £5, whichever is greater. 

Wealthy asked: Want to pay more?  

Richer families in one of Britain’s wealthiest counties could be asked if they want to pay extra council tax.

They would be ‘invited’ to make voluntary additional payments but would not get any extra services in return.

The plea from Surrey County Council comes despite the fact that it wants to put up its bills by the maximum 4 per cent to pay for social care.

The request for residents in the higher property band to pay more has already been tried by Westminster Council in central London.

Earlier this month Tim Oliver, Surrey County Council’s leader, said he was sure some residents would be happy to make the extra contributions.

At a council meeting, he said: ‘There is nothing to stop this council asking people to make more contributions to council tax if they so wish.’

A similar scheme, called the Westminster Community Contribution, was rolled out by Westminster City Council in 2018.

The extra money was then used for specific services such as youth clubs and homelessness and for tackling isolation. Councillor Oliver said the Westminster scheme had ‘worked’.

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