COUNCIL TAX: Wolverhampton residents facing 4.99% increase
Residents in Wolverhampton will be hit with a near-five per cent hike in their council tax bills as the city authority looks to balance its books.
Members of City of Wolverhampton Council’s cabinet agreed to the 4.99 per cent increase from April as part of its budget setting for 2021/22.
A large chunk of the increase is ring fenced for adult social care service after the Government permitted local authorities to add a levy up of up to three per cent.
But bosses at Wolverhampton said they had no choice but to impose the full three per cent as Whitehall would factor it in when awarding grant funding to the council.
Councillor Louise Miles, cabinet member for resources, also said finances had been hit by Covid-19 and called upon the secretary of state for local government Robert Jenrick to fulfil his pledge to repatriate council spending.
Wolverhampton’s overall budget for the coming year has been slashed by just over £15 million to £225 million to fund general services.
Gloomy forecasts for the coming three years show the city could see a budget deficit of around £29.6 million.
The City of Wolverhampton Council part of residents’ tax bills for 2021/22 (before police and fire precepts are included) will be:
*Band A – £1,177.00 (A rise of £55.95)
*Band B – £1,373.16 (A rise of £65.26)
*Band C – £1,569.33 (A rise of £74.60)
*Band D – £1,765.49 (A rise of £83.91)
*Band E – £2,157.82 (A rise of £102.56)
*Band F – £2,550.15 (A rise of £121.20)
*Band G – £2,942.49 (A rise of £139.86)
*Band H – £3,530.98 (A rise of £167.82)
Councillor Miles said: “We’ve been able to balance and set a budget for the next financial year without the need to make significant cuts to services.
“However this is only possible by raising council tax by 1.99 per cent and imposing the Government’s adult social care levy, which is an additional three per cent.
“The Government expects us to take these steps as they factor them in when they calculate how much funding they give councils. We certainly do not feel from our side we have any discretion in this matter.
“The last budget that was set this time last year for 2020/21 was impacted upon and distorted by the impact of Covid-19.
“We recognise the monies that the council has received from the Government as a result of the pandemic. However, the net impact of the pandemic on the council’s resources was £6.4m.
“We call upon the Government to make good Robert Jenrick’s promise to do whatever it takes to support councils, residents and local communities for the continuing impact of the pandemic.
“This is particularly needed in the context of rising unemployment rates in the city.
“We also call upon the Government to review the funding strategy for councils which has been pending now for several years so the council can plan properly over the medium term and not rely on one-off grants.
“The Government must also act urgently in the area of adult social care where a root and branch reform is needed at a national level for both provision of care and its funding.
Her calls were backed leader Ian Brookfield who said: “It is a very clever way of passing on responsibilities and taxation to the hard pressed residents of the city.”
Words: Gurdip Thandi, Local Democracy Reporter
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