'˜Unwelcome' South Tyneside Council Tax rise likely to fund social care

A senior councillor has accused the Government of dumping the spiralling cost of social care on council tax payers.

Thursday, 15th December 2016, 5:00 am
Updated Thursday, 15th December 2016, 1:00 pm
South Shields Town Hall

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid will announce today that local authorities in England are to be allowed to bring forward council tax increases totalling six per cent over the next two years to pay for social care, a move which will add a total of more than £90 to the average bill for a Band D property.

Coun Tracey Dixon, South Tyneside’s Lead Member for Independence and Wellbeing, said: “The government has repeatedly ignored the warnings from respected bodies such as the Care Quality Commission, the Local Government Association, the NHS and the King’s Fund about the crisis affecting adult social care.

Coun Tracey Dixon

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“Despite this, the Chancellor failed to consider a fair funding settlement as part of his Autumn Statement.

“We have already taken advantage of the opportunity to levy a two per cent precept but this went nowhere near plugging the financial crisis we are facing.

“Furthermore, the Government’s unfunded introduction of the National Living wage has further compounded the situation.

“A Council Tax precept is an extremely unfair way to fund the gap that has been created by government policy pushing the burden directly onto local council taxpayers.

Coun Tracey Dixon

“It is particularly unfair because areas with the lowest council tax base have the highest demand for services so this policy widens the inequality gap across the country, disproportionately affecting councils such as South Tyneside.

“We are likely to have no option but to take the unwelcome step of having to raise Council Tax still further as the government pushes the burden of the crisis created by its policies on to local taxpayers.”

Charities welcomed the change as a “step in the right direction”, but said it would not fill a black hole in funding estimated to reach £2.6billion by 2020.

Leonard Cheshire Disability chief executive Neil Heslop said: “We are pleased the Government has acknowledged the severe strain that social care is under. Giving local councils more flexibility to raise revenue locally is a step in the right direction.

“However, it risks creating a postcode lottery. This will do little to plug the social care funding gap by 2020, particularly as the areas with the greatest need for extra funding will raise the least through the precept.”