Bedford Borough Council's tax increase was 6th highest of all unitary authorities in England

Figures released by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities show that Bedford Borough Council had the sixth highest council tax rise amongst unitary authorities in England.
Borough Hall BedfordBorough Hall Bedford
Borough Hall Bedford

The data showed the 2022-23 Band D council tax set by unitary authorities in England is an average 3.1 per cent higher than the previous tax year.

However, council tax for borough residents has increased by 3.99 per cent. This includes the adult social care precept, but excludes parish precepts.

Luton Borough Council's increase is 2.99 per cent, while residents in Central Bedfordshire face a rise of 1.95 per cent.

But the council says the hike is the result of delaying the one per cent Adult Social Care precept so residents could save cash last year.

Introduced in 1993, council tax is the main source of locally raised income for many local authorities.

The council was asked why borough residents are seeing a higher increase this year than other residents in Bedfordshire.

Councillor Michael Headley, portfolio holder for finance, said: “We made the decision to delay implementing one per cent of the Government’s Adult Social Care precept in 2020/2021, so local residents have been protected from that extra cost on their Council Tax for the last 12 months.

"This has meant local residents paid less Council Tax last year than they would have otherwise.

"It is wrong to now criticise the council for taking this approach, which saved residents hundreds of thousands of pounds last year."

Local authorities with adult social care responsibilities were able to increase council tax by up to 1 per cent in 2022-23.

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Also, authorities that had deferred any or all of the 3 per cent adult social care precept increase available in 2021-22 to 2022-23 could utilise up their remaining amount.

These precept charges are in addition to the usual adult social care funding through council tax.

The council was also asked if residents could feel confident that this increase isn't the end of the council's history of low council tax rises.

Councillor Headley said: “Since 2009/10 to the present year, Bedford Borough Council has had the fourth lowest percentage increase on Council Tax out of all unitary local authorities across the country.

"We have consistently worked to keep Council Tax increases as low as possible, and continued to protect those residents on lowest incomes by providing 100 per cent Council Tax support, so those most in need pay no Council Tax.”

This data released by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities does not take into account the £150 council tax rebate being given to households in Bands A to D.

Borough residents who are experiencing difficulty with paying their council tax should contact the council straight away to discuss payment options.

If payments are not received by the due date the council may need to take action. This could mean the loss of the right to pay by instalments and may incur legal fees and fines.