As we begin a new year, it’s natural to think about new beginnings. Could 2022 be the year that the Government stops dithering and finally gets a grip on council funding?
The recent provisional local government finance settlement points to another year of disappointment – or even despair – because it looks like it is doubling down on its policy of making council tax pay for everything.
Since Boris Johnson became Prime Minister in 2019, the Government has forced councils to increase council tax by more than 13 per cent. It has now confirmed it expects councils to raise it by another 9 per cent by 2024 if we want to ensure vital public services can be delivered.
Council tax rises – and in particular the adult social care precept – have never been the solution to the long-term pressures faced by councils.
“Extra council tax hits the most vulnerable members of our communities”
Increasing council tax raises different amounts of money in different parts of the country, unrelated to need, and deepens financial inequality at a time when many working people are seeing their budgets hit from every direction.
Together with rising inflation, soaring energy bills, and a National Insurance hike in 2022, extra council tax hits the most vulnerable members of our communities.
This comes after the Conservatives have slashed funding for council tax support schemes, leaving more than 500,000 low-income households no longer receiving any help with their bills.
The Government has a choice in 2022 – it can either fund councils properly, or it can introduce a fairer system of local taxation.
My prediction? Another year of dither and delay, with local services paying the price.