Council tax bills 'to rise by 6%' to fund social care

  • Video report by ITV News Political Correspondent Libby Wiener

Council tax bills in England could rise by as much as 6% from next year as local authorities struggle to fill a social care funding black hole.

The Government are set to announce measures to relax council tax restrictions allowing authorities to impose the rise over two years rather than the previously agreed three.

The plans, to be announced by Communities Secretary Sajid Javid on Thursday, will add a total of more than £90 to the average bill for a Band D property.

Millions of households have already been warned that almost nine out of 10 local authorities plan to increase council tax for 2017/18.

Former chancellor George Osborne announced last year that local authorities would be permitted to add a 2% "social care precept" onto bills to raise £2 billion a year to help deal with the growing crisis in the sector.

But charities warn the rise will not be enough to plug the funding gap that is estimated to reach £2.6 billion by 2020. They also fear the proposals risk creating a postcode lottery.

The chief executive of Leonard Cheshire Disability, Neil Heslop, said: "We are pleased that the Government has acknowledged the severe strain that social care is under.

"While extra money is always welcome, this will do little to plug the £2.6 billion social care funding gap by 2020, particularly as the areas with the greatest need for extra funding will raise the least through the precept."

Mark Atkinson, chief executive Scope, said the crisis in social care amounted to a "national emergency".

"Following the omission of social care in the Autumn Statement, the reported 6% increase in council tax won't go far enough and isn't the long term solution needed to meet rising demand and costs," Mr Atkinson said.

John O'Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, warned: "Since 1997 Council Tax has gone up by at least 58% in real terms in England alone, so councils must remember that raising it even more will have a serious impact on household budgets."