District councils campaign against ‘unfair’ council tax measures

In its submission to the final Local Government Finance Settlement, the District Councils’ Network (DCN) has urged for changes to the ‘unfair’ system governing council tax increases which are curbing their key role in prevention.

The DCN, which represents 200 district councils across England, says that 88 district councils will not benefit from the flexibility on current tax increase proposals and has outlined proposals to help raise an additional £34 million for district councils which could be invested in further prevention services to help reduce demand on social care and health services.

The current £5 alternative proposal to councils increasing council tax by up to three per cent over the next two years remains unchanged which, the DCN argues, discriminates against district councils because the £5 is a higher value than three per cent due to low levels of council tax levied by them.

The network is calling for the £5 to be increased to £7.50 for district councils. The extra £2.50 could raise an extra £9 million for districts, whilst having minimal impact – equating to a 14p a week increase for a Band D property – for council tax payers.

John Fuller, chairman of the DCN, said: “This year’s proposals on council tax will mean that metropolitan and unitary councils can raise proportionately more than those councils covering shire district areas. That’s unfair. 88 district councils will not benefit from the increase of the council tax threshold to three per cent despite these authorities having the lowest council tax charges’.

“Allowing those districts to increase council tax by the greater of three per cent or £7.50 would ensure the ‘cash alternative’ provides meaningful headroom to continue to deliver public services which are vital to local residents. The proposals in the settlement need to go further to ensure fairness for shire district areas compared to unitary/metropolitan authorities where the whole council tax charge can be increased to fund social care and prevention issues.”

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