Plans have been confirmed for Surrey council to raise its council tax by 15% because of mounting pressures on its social care budget and children’s services, a change which will lead to a county-wide referendum of residents.
Since 2012, councils, fire services, and police and crime commissioners are required to hold a referendum if they wish to increase council tax by more than the cap set by central government.
David Hodge, the Conservative council’s leader, said: –
“Demand for adults’ social care, learning disabilities and children’s services is increasing every year. So I regret, despite us finding £450m worth of savings from our annual budget, we have no choice but to propose this increase in council tax.”
Jeremy Corbyn has said councils should not be expected to use their budgets to deal with the growing scale of the social care crisis. He has stated it’s a central government responsibility and the central government should face up to its responsibilities. Many critics have cast doubt on the motives for holding a referendum on such a steep hike, given there is such a slim chance residents will vote for the increase. Since 2012 only one referendum on council tax rises has been held and was roundly defeated, with 69% of residents voting against proposals by Bedfordshire’s police and crime commissioner to raise council tax by 15.8% in 2015.