RESIDENTS in Sefton could be forced to fork out even more on council tax after forecasters predicted that it could be increased by up to 5% a year until 2024/25.
The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) published findings to say that under government spending plans, a rise of at least 3.6% on council tax bills will be needed annually to keep services at pre-pandemic levels.
However, the report added that rises of up to 5% are more likely through to 2024/25.
It means another increase for local taxpayers after it went up by 3.99% in April last year.
Sefton Council leader, Cllr Ian Maher, has responded by calling on more government financial support.
At a Cabinet meeting last week, Cllr Maher said that if council tax rises are seen as a way to fund local services, such as social care, then it would “widen disparities between areas rather than achieve any levelling up.”
Cllr Maher said: “As the country emerges from the ravages of the Covid-19 pandemic and areas such as Sefton that have been among the hardest hit, start to recover, we are facing enormous financial pressures.
“These are a result of a legacy of government cuts and then a failure of ministers to provide sufficient support during the pandemic, despite their claims at the beginning of this crisis, that they would do ‘whatever it takes’ to support communities.
“It is now becoming clear that the government’s plan for tackling existing pressures and the growing costs of social care is through council tax and the new social care precept.
“As the research by the Institute for Fiscal Studies and the LGA have shown this is going to leave people facing significant rises in council tax at the same time as they are having to deal with increasing household fuel costs, rising prices in the shops and the government’s £20 per week cut in Universal Credit.”
The IFS claimed the government’s recently-announced social care policies will cost £5billion a year in the long term, which is almost three times the funding that has been allocated over the next three years.
England’s councils face almost £8billion of extra cost pressures of by 2024/25 just to keep vital local services running at today’s levels, the Local Government Association (LGA) has warned.
The LGA’s analysis says the £8billion figure is about addressing new pressures councils will face in the next three years.
It does not include what it calls ‘the very real pressures that councils are facing here and now such as paying care workers a fair wage or investing in the early intervention services which help families and young people falling into crisis.’
Cllr Maher called on the government to make safeguarding vital local services for the long term, a priority for the Chancellor’s Spending Review later this month.
He said: “If minsters have any real commitment to levelling up society, as they keep claiming, providing robust and sustained funding for our services needs to be at the heart of it, rather than relying on people in already hard-hit areas to foot the bill themselves.
“We are already building back in Sefton but if the government doesn’t support us with long-term investment Boris Johnson’s claims this week to be building back better will be seen as nothing more than political posturing and sloganeering.”