District councils call for freedom to raise council tax

The District Councils’ Network (DCN) has called for the freedom to increase council tax to help improve health and care outcomes for their citizens.

Chancellor George Osborne announced in the Spending Review that local authorities with a responsibility for social care would be allowed to increase council tax by two per cent to support these services.

A report from the King’s Fund, commissioned by the DCN, calls for district councils to have the freedom to set a two per cent ‘prevention precept’, which would allow them to better support community health and well-being and prevent health problems in their local areas.

Neil Clarke, chairman of the DCN, said: “District councils make a major, but often under-recognised contribution to the health of their citizens and communities.

“This report from The King’s Fund shows that as English devolution and the move towards integrated place-based public services gathers pace, districts will be critical partners for the NHS and other tiers of local government seeking to develop population health systems.

“Prevention work is shown to be far more effective than all other measures, and it is for this solidly-evidenced reason that we are making the district council case for solving the funding anomaly in district and county areas and giving our members the freedom to set a two per cent prevention precept.

“A two per cent district levy targeted toward prevention initiatives would be an excellent start in averting higher future health costs and could repay as much as £70 for every £1 invested by districts in our areas.”