Council tax increase of five percent is on the cards for Bedford

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Householders in Bedford Borough could face a whopping council tax increase of five percent next year.

The hike would mean an extra £80 plus a year for average Band D payers.

And they could face another five per cent increase on that sum the following year.

This is far more than the council’s predicted rise – but Mayor Dave Hodgson blames government.

Today (Thursday) government communities Secretary Sajid Javid was due to announce that council tax restrictions would be lifted in order to fund the growing need for adult social care.

He was due to give local authorities permission to raise the tax by an extra six per cent over the next two years.

Mayor Dave said: “Any extra funds are desperately needed for the care of the elderly and vulnerable, but it will come at a high price for local taxpayers.” The government’s move follows former Chancellor George Osborne’s announcement last year that councils could add a two per cent “social care precept” to their taxpayers’ bills.

But funding social care from council tax revenue is only a “sticking plaster” approach, says Mayor Dave.

“It will fail to plug the massive funding gap the government has allowed us to build up,” he said.

Bedford Borough is spending more than £ 50m this year on adult social care. And the demand grows year on year.

The council’s total net budget is £130 million and during this financial year overall net expenditure went down by three per cent.

However, the spend on adult social care went UP by nine per cent due to the increase in demand for services.

Charities are already warning the council tax rise will not be sufficient to plug the funding gap.

It is expected this gap will reach £2.6 billion nationally by 2020.

They also fear the government proposals will create a postcode lottery for people in need of care who live in ‘cheaper’ areas.

Mayor Dave said: “Increases in council tax raises vastly more money for wealthy areas, making it an uneven, inefficient and unfair means of getting vital extra cash to the front line.”

Currently a Band D council household in Bedford Borough pays £1,627.31 a year.

Band E pays £1,988.94, while Band F pays 2,350.56.

Bedford’s largest houses are in Band H. These are paying council tax bills of £3,354.63 this year.