Council considering biggest council tax rise possible as it faces multi-million deficit
Council Tax could be set to rise by 4.99 per cent for some residents as Shropshire Council prepares for a huge inflation-driven deficit.
In this month's Autumn Statement, the Chancellor, Jeremy Hunt increased the amount by which councils can raise council tax.
Now Shropshire Council's Conservative Cabinet member for finance, Councillor Gwilym Butler, had confirmed the administration will be considering the biggest rise possible.
Last year the authority increased council tax by 3.99 per cent, with two per cent exclusively for adult social care.
Councillor Butler said that the inflation pressures hitting households and businesses across the county were also affecting the council – with current predictions likely to see an £11m deficit in the authority's budget come the end of the financial year.
He added that the increase in Council Tax would only add another £1.8m to the council's coffers, with the authority expecting a budget deficit of £25m to open up next year.
He said that to cover the financial gap without cutting services the council would need to increase tax by an extra 10 to 11 per cent.
He said: "Because cost pressures will rise next year, and the increase in adult social care demand and children's care we are predicting, we have to find around £25m for next year so the extra one per cent on council tax is a little bit of a drop in the ocean, but we have no alternative."
Councillor Butler said the situation was not unique to Shropshire and was being seen across the country, but that the level of savings needed would mean "difficult decisions" over services.
However, he said he was determined to see it as an "opportunity" for the council and the county, as they look to town and parish councils, and communities to work together to maintain services.
He said: "I am not going to shy away from it, there are hard decisions but we will try and do what we can."
He added: "I am not going to say we are closing this, that and the other. We will be looking at the Shropshire Plan and the money will follow our priorities."
It comes after Telford & Wrekin Council committed to freezing its council tax rise for the next two years – excluding the adult social care levy.
Speaking last week, the authority's Labour leader, Councillor Shaun Davies said: "A pledge is a pledge, we said we would freeze council tax this year and next and that pledge stands."