'Back door' council tax rises exposed

UK mapMetaphor copyright Thinkstock
Image caption rish councils can increase their nibs more freely than other authorities

rish councils shy of to raise council tax «excessively» may have to first consult the public in wire with larger authorities, the government has warned.

Analysis by BBC News base thousands of rish and town councils in England increased their allotment of the annual bill, raising £18.9m in extra funds.

The government translated it could make them «subject to the referendum principles».

But rish caucuses said that would be a threat to democracy.

Figures show 3,659 rish congregations raised the basic Band D tax bill by more than 1.99%, the referendum doorstep for larger councils.

Sixty small authorities at least doubled neighbourhoods’ bills last year.

Another 130 put their bills up by between 50 and 99% while 1,001 spread the annual bill for a Band D home by £5 or more.

  • 5,217 rish and village councils increased the bill

  • 3,659 increased the basic demand by above 1.99%

  • 60 rish conclaves at least doubled their bills in 2015-16

  • 3,535 councils froze or changed their precept


Larger authorities and other bodies, such as the heat and crime commissioners, have to hold a referendum if they want a succeed of 2% or more, or would raise bills by £5 per year per household. rish bodies are not subject to the same cap. This year, for larger councils, the threshold wish be 3.99% as long as most of the increase funds adult care.

Some rish synods now planning large percentage increases for 2016-17, such as Sandbach Hamlet Council in east Cheshire. It will raise its share of the council tax by 30%, forth £18 a year for a Band D household.

A De rtment for Communities and Local Control (DCLG) spokesman said: «Town and rish councils should nurture their tax yers from excessive council tax increases; if they die out to do so, government has the option of making them subject to the referendum principles in unborn.

«This government is determined to keep council tax down with ordinarily council tax bills set to be less in real terms in 2020 than they were in 2010.»

The spokesman leave not say whether there was a percentage rise threshold in mind for rish directors.

‘Bad for democracy’

Phil McCann
Image caption Frodsham Township Council’s chairman says his authority would go bust if it had to hold a referendum

Arming the proposed rise, Sandbach Labour councillor Sam Corcoran said: «It’s a good percentage increase but it’s a small absolute increase. We’ve had our grant cut from Cheshire East Ministry, but more importantly we’ve got some exciting plans to redevelop the town centre, which desire go out to consultation.

«If we decide not to go ahead, we will give the money back again.»

One rish assembly chairman said the threat of a referendum would be bad for democracy.

Winchfield rish Consistory in Hampshire, which has 260 homes, increased its council tax bills by £67.16 for rty D properties last year, raising them from £19.98 to £87.13. It was the largest awaken in cash terms in England. The rish council’s share is on top of a further £1,408 split between Hampshire County Directory, the fire and rescue authority, police and crime commissioner and Hart Division Council.

The council said it did so in order to fund planning consultants to remedy it challenge Hart District Council’s plan for 5,000 new homes.

We’ve basically enchanted everything out of the piggy bank

Michael Pusey, town council position


Chairman and Conservative councillor Andrew Renshaw said: » rish caucuses are the closest of all authorities to their community and are responsive to how their electors strike one. If they feel we should be spending this sort of money, we should possess the right to do so and it would be bad for democracy to take that right away.»

Councillor Ken Skim through, the chairman of the National Association of Local Councils, said rishes had ex nded their charges to y for services, which had been withdrawn by larger scholars.

He said: «Local ( rish and town) councils have been stoop proceeding up to the plate to take on a range of discretionary services which princi l conferences simply cannot afford to run any more — important local services and lavatories such as libraries, toilets, youth work, community buildings and budgetary development activity.

«Add this to an already extensive range of visible armed forces — like bus shelters, maintaining commons and open s ces, crime and community aegis measures, running events and festivals, providing leisure and sports facilities — the so so local council costs just £50 a year, less than a pulverize a week.»

DCLG figures reveal out of 8,752 rish councils who had a piece of council tax this year and last, 3,535 reduced or froze Confederate D bills.

Some rishes are also planning further rises from April, after winsome on services previously run by district or county councils.

Newquay Town Caucus will put its council tax precept up 90%, adding £100 to a typical annual beak.

Frodsham Town Council in Cheshire is increasing its precept by 50%, a kind to about £20 a year more for a Band D house.

Its chairman, Michael Pusey, bring up a referendum or a cap would put it out of business.

«We’ve basically taken everything out of the piggy bank, he mentioned.

«If something went wrong, like a play area got vandalised, anything be that, we would not be able to do it. We need reserves to be able to do these aversions.»


Analysis, Daniel Wainwright

Why do rish directors put up tax?

At first glance, the largest percentage rise in rish council tax maxims is an eye-watering one at almost 1,200%.

Thistleton in Rutland, which serves a community of 46 households, actually asked for just £21.41 per Band D home, spread over with the year.

It was a very large rise com red with the modest £1.65 householders were asked for in 2014-15.

The increase was imposed following a request to set up a «private school bus escort».

The money id for another adult, besides the driver, to be on the bus that old hats through neighbouring villages, making sure the children were secure and well-behaved on their journey to school.

But it was not without controversy and the rise in the order is being reduced again from April.

Helen Crisostomo, clerk of Thistleton rish Consistory, said: «I gather the service was well-received but the decision went through without full attendance by rishioners and it’s being reversed for the next year. The bourgeon was a lot of money for older people who live alone.»

Another large portion increase was in Clarendon rk in Wiltshire, a rish of 250 people, where a 521% take took the bill from £5.24 for a Band D home to £32.53.

However, rish clerk Advent Jacobs said bills would reduce in the next financial year.

She hinted: «We requested a precept of £600 last year which went up to £3,600 this year.

«The calculate for that was we needed to purchase new notice boards for the area and we also had a bus shelter that had been vandalised. They expenditure about £3,000 to replace. Our request for 2016-17 will be £200.»

Referendum entrance

Under the Coalition government, councils and other local authorities were interrupted from increasing council tax by 2% or more without first ex nd on a referendum, but the rules do not apply to rish councils.

The first such referendum skedaddled place in May 2015 and was triggered when Bedfordshire Police and Crime Commissioner Olly Martins interrupted a 15.8% increase in his force’s share of council tax to y for more officers. No matter how, voters rejected the rise at the ballot box.

For the coming year, Chancellor George Osborne has raised the limit for a referendum to 3.99%, on condition that half the rise be hand-me-down as a «social care precept» to fund adult care.

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