COVENTRY council taxpayers are set to be hit with the largest Council Tax rise for years to pay for dwindling services – at an inflation-busting 3.9 per cent.
For years, Council Tax has been restricted by the government at a maximum two per cent in Coventry – and government incentives have been taken to freeze bills in some years.
But with greater government freedoms, the council’s Labour leaders have today announced their intention to press ahead with the large hike.
They say it is necessary to “protect the vulnerable” from cuts in council services including adult social care, which they blame on unprecedented government funding cuts since 2010.
The plan will be debated by councillors at a budget setting meeting on Feburary 23, where the Labour majority of councillors will be expected to force the measure through, in time for the new financial year in April.
Councillor Damian Gannon, finance cabinet member, said: He said: “For a number of years we have kept Council Tax as low as we can manage while focusing on protecting the frontline services that we know people really value.
“The government have refused to provide additional grants to fund the rising cost of social care, instead they want councils to levy an extra tax on residents.
“As a result, the council has no choice but to accept the social care precept due to the pressures that the service in Coventry is facing.
“This will cost residents 40p more per week than the 1.9 per cent rise the council was originally anticipating making.
“Half of the rise in this year’s Council Tax – that’s 40p a week – will be used to partially offset these costs, but it simply won’t be enough in the future.
“We know how important our frontline services are to Coventry residents but over the coming year we will need to work with people across the city to find new answers to the challenges we face, because the figures simply don’t add up and it’s clear the government will continue to cut our funding.”
A council statement added that “government funding for the council has been slashed by 45 per cent since 2010, reducing the Council’s grant for key services such as social care, refuse collections and highways maintenance to £122million from last year’s grant of £137million.
“Now councillors at a budget setting meeting later this month will hear that a Council Tax increase for most Coventry residents of around 80p a week is needed to help pay for the increasing cost of adult social care.”