It’s the question on the lips of thousands of local people, especially following the decision from Telford & Wrekin Council to rise rates by just 1% (to help cover social care costs).
An announcement from Herefordshire Council surrounding a council tax rise is expected imminently but many local residents will be fearing the proposed increase of 2.99% with increases to household energy bills, food costs and inflation all causing a ‘cost of living crisis’.
Councillor Shaun Davies, leader at Telford & Wrekin Council and Labour group leader, said:
“We already have the lowest council tax in the midlands for the services this council delivers. However, we have made the decision to go one step further and commit to a 0% council tax rise for the next two years.
“We’re doing this because we know many local people are struggling with rising costs and uncertain months ahead. It’s important to us that we remain firmly on the side of our residents during these difficult times.
“The government has assumed that all local authorities will put up council tax by 2%. We have ignored this and believe we will be the only council in the region and one of only a handful in the country to be freezing council tax instead.
“However, the government expect all local authorities with responsibilities for adult social care to add 1% to the adult social care levy fund. This will be identified in the council tax bill as being ring fenced to specifically fund adult social care. This is the only element of the council tax bill that we will raise. This 1% will cost the typical household 21p per week.
“I call on those who have control over the other elements of our residents’ council tax bills such as the police and crime commissioner, the fire authority and parish and town councils to show similar restraint and discipline as us. We must all play our part in helping families weather the storm of eye watering inflation and hikes in the cost of energy, food, rents, mortgage rates and fuel.
“A commitment to a 0% council tax rise for two years is a tough decision to make because it will cost the council £4.6m over the next two years. Every penny counts when we are managing council finances but given people’s personal challenges, it is the right thing to do.”
Councillor Rae Evans, cabinet member for finance, governance and customer services (Lab), added:
“As a council we are firmly on the side of our residents, who have told us loud and clear that the past 12 months have been challenging for them in many ways. We want to do what’s right for them by committing to freezing council tax for the next two years. This gives them the reassurance that whilst their household and energy costs are rising, as a responsible and caring local authority, we are doing our best to deliver exceptional services without it costing them anything extra.
“This decision, subject to consultation, will lead to further tough decisions for us as a council. However, our view is we should make those decisions in order to support our residents. We feel that because of our careful and responsible financial management over the last 11 years we are able to help residents in this way.”
However the situation in Herefordshire is tough, with Herefordshire Council now receiving very little money from central government in comparison to previous years, meaning that increases to council tax and other measures like parking charges are critical to the councils budget.