Warning over council tax as leader says constant hikes not the answer

Norfolk County Council tax bill. Picture: Denise Bradley

Repeatedly increasing council tax is not the answer to local council funding woes, the leader of Norfolk County Council has said. - Credit: Archant

Repeatedly hiking council tax is not the answer to ensuring local authorities have enough money to provide services, Norfolk County Council's leader has said.

Amid national warnings that council tax could have to rise by up to 5pc each year for the next three years, County Hall Conservative leader Andrew Proctor has called on the government to provide longer-term funding for councils.

Andrew Proctor, leader of Norfolk County Council. Pic: Norfolk County Council.

Norfolk County Council leader Andrew Proctor. - Credit: Norfolk County Council

Mr Proctor said: "We can't sit in a situation where it's easy enough for central government to turn around and say well, you can always put the council tax up.

"Constantly putting the council tax up, in common with other taxes, doesn't sit well with us from a political point of view, or with our residents, and we have a duty to support them in the best way we can.

"This picture of funding for local government is a national situation, especially upper tier local authorities.

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"It's not just us saying we need more money to deliver the services we want to deliver and we must deliver.

"From that point of view, long-term funding is required. You can get by on short-term funding, but long-term funding is an absolute requirement."

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Norfolk County Council announced in June it was predicting a need to save more than £39m next year – or £47.8m, if council tax was frozen.

The council has decided to delay publication of how it aims to make those savings until after the government's comprehensive spending review and budget on October 27.

Last year's budget saw the share of council tax which goes to County Hall increased by 3.99pc.

That added £56.43 to bills for a Band D property, with £1,472.94 going to the county council.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has said that, under current government spending plans, a rise of at least 3.6pc on council tax bills will be needed per year just for councils to keep services running at the levels seen before the coronavirus pandemic.

But the researchers said this would likely be a minimum requirement, with extra cost pressures and demand potentially meaning bills could rise by up to 5pc every year up to 2024/25.

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