Wirral Labour’s 2% Council Tax Rise branded “excessive” by Pickles
The Labour run Wirral Council have previously stated in public that they will not set a budget for 2014/15 that includes a Council Tax rise that would trigger a referendum. Published today the government has set the threshold that triggers a Council Tax referendum at 2%.
Labour’s budget for Wirral Council currently assumes a 2% Council Tax rise, therefore for Labour to avoid a Council Tax referendum it will have to be altered to result in a Council Tax rise below 2% at the next Cabinet meeting to consider the 2014/15 budget. Options presented to the next Cabinet meeting are for a 2% Council Tax rise (now seen as unlikely considering that the Labour administration has stated they wish to avoid a referendum), a 1.5% rise or a 1% rise. Choosing the last option would mean that Wirral Council qualifies for a Council Tax Freeze Grant from government covering the cost of a 1% increase which would effectively freeze Council Tax at last year’s level.
The Rt Hon Mr Pickles MP has encouraged people to go to Twitter and use the hashtag #freezeplease to express their views to their local Council on Council Tax rises. He said, “Council Tax bills more than doubled, pushing the typical bill to a £120 a month from hard-working people and pensioners. Council Tax became a big worry for those trying to balance family budgets. This government has been working to give families greater financial security, taking action to keep Council Tax down.
We have given extra funding to town halls to help freeze Council Tax and handed local residents new rights to veto big local tax hikes, so local people have the final say on the amount they pay.
Since 2010, Council Tax bills have been cut by 10% in real terms across England and people haven’t been facing the threat of soaring bills. I would urge councils to take up the offer of additional funding to help freeze Council Tax this year to help their residents with the cost of living.”
It seems highly unlikely that Wirral Council will accept Pickle’s offer of a Council Tax Freeze Grant (although Cllr Phil Davies has now said he’ll consider it if it forms part of the base budget), or now go for their preferred option of a 2% rise as setting an increase this high would now trigger a Council Tax Referendum on the same date at the combined local and European elections (22nd May 2014).
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