Local authorities will soon be able to increase council tax bills by up to 5.99% without consulting residents, the government has announced.
Currently, councils are required to hold a local referendum if they want to raise council tax rates by more than 1.99%. However, this cap will be increased from April 2018, meaning councils will be able to implement a 2.99% rise without holding a vote.
Councils can also implement a further 3% increase in council tax to fund the costs of social care, meaning some people could see their council tax bill rise by 5.99% in the 2018/19 tax year.
The Department for Communities and Local Government says increasing the cap will allow councils to raise more money to pay for public services while still protecting residents from large tax increases.
Communities secretary Sajid Javid says: “I am aware of the pressures facing councils and this is why I am giving them more flexibility, so they have greater control over the money they raise to address local needs.
“This strikes a balance between giving councils the ability to make decisions to meet pressures and ensure that our most vulnerable in society get the support they need while protecting residents against excessive council tax bill rises.”
However, the chairman of the Local Government Association, Lord Porter, has urged the government to scrap the cap altogether.
“Greater flexibility for local authorities in setting council tax levels will give some councils the option of raising extra money to offset some of the financial pressures they face next year,” he says.
“With no other national tax subject to referenda, the council tax referendum limit needs to be abolished so councils and their communities can decide how under-pressure local services are paid for, with residents able to democratically hold their council to account through the ballot box.”