Letter from Chells County Councillor Robin Parker to the Editor of the Comet
In your report on the likely local council tax increase from April 2017 (Comet 26 January, page 22) your reporter states that people can expect to pay more than an extra 3%. This figure is likely to be an underestimate.
Although Stevenage Borough Council (SBC) collect all the council tax, it is split between three authorities: 77% of it goes to Conservative dominated Hertfordshire County Council (HCC), 13% goes to Labour dominated SBC and 10% goes to the Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC). Each year, each authority sets its own increase.
Central government currently limit council tax increases to 2%, except that authorities who provide social care (like HCC) can add an extra 2% in each of 2017, 2018, 2019 – or alternatively they can choose to add 3% in 2017 and again in 2018. Boroughs and the PCC are limited to a 2% rise, or the equivalent of £5 a year on a band D property, which in Stevenage equates to a 2.6% increase. In all cases, a larger rise would trigger a local referendum, costing about the equivalent of a 1% rise.
Final decisions by HCC, SBC and the PCC will be made towards the end of February. Present indications are that HCC will go for a 5% rise (2% general and 3% ring fenced for social care), whereas both SBC and the PCC will go for the 2.6% rise. This would mean an overall local council tax rise of 4.45% and I would expect the final figure to be close to this, rather than the 3% you reported.
It is clear that the lion’s share of your council tax goes to Tory controlled HCC, where the Liberal Democrats are the main opposition, and I am sure that yet again we will propose savings – e.g. not wasting money on the useless electronic traffic information signs and on excess publicity, publications and management – and be defeated as usual by the Tories.