Four in 10 councils to increase council tax
Four out of 10 councils in England plan to raise its council tax from April, despite the offer of a government freeze grant, a survey has revealed.
In October last year, Chancellor George Osborne announced an extra £450 million pot to encourage councils to freeze council tax over the next two years, but research by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy (CIPFA) shows more than 40% of local authorities plan to impose an average hike of 1.1%.
With the remaining councils having agreed to take the freeze grant, the overall Band D council tax bill across England will rise by 0.8%, the equivalent of £11.74 a year.
Ian Carruthers, CIPFA's director of policy, said: "As the pressures from this period of unprecedented austerity intensify, all councils are having to strike an increasingly difficult balance between protecting hard-press taxpayers and maintaining local services."
The survey showed regional variation of increases, with Yorkshire and the Humber expecting to increase its council tax by 1.2%, while in Greater London the average bill is set to rise by only 0.1%.
Eric Pickles, local government secretary, previously said any council tax increase of 2% or more would trigger a referendum on the rise.
He said the 0.8% increase nationally amounted to a tax cut in real terms.
A spokesperson for the Local Government Association said it had been a "tricky" decision for councils.
The spokesperson added: "Collectively, local authorities are facing a 33% cut in funding from government at the same time as the cost of providing services like adult social care is climbing through the roof.
"The council tax grant from government is very small when set against those pressures and it lasts just two years with no certainty beyond that."
The spokesperson said by increasing council tax, councils were attempting to alleviate pressure in the long term.