Brighton and Hove are planning a Council Tax increase of 3.5%. Anymore and they would be subject to a referendum. As would any other council. The Local Government Chronicle's recently reported that the Government's offer to fund a Council Tax freeze would be widely spurned. But I have yet to hear of any other Council planning any increase at all.
Council Tax more than doubled under the last Labour Government. In most years the average hike was well above 3.5%. In 2003 the average rise was 12.9%. Imagine if the people's veto had been available then.
If the local electorate vote against any increase over 3.5% the local authority will have to revert to a council tax level that is compliant.
The Localism Act abolishes Whitehall capping in England and puts local referendums in its place. Parliament will be asked to endorse the final vote threshold before councils set their annual budgets in the
Communities Secretary Eric Pickles said:
“Since 1997 people have seen their council tax more than double, pushing typical bills to £120 a month. We are getting to grips with this with another council tax freeze deal and by radically extending direct democracy over big bill increases with a new local tax lock.
“Councils have a moral obligation to help hard-working families and pensioners with the cost of living. If they want to hike taxes on their local residents above 3.5 per cent they’ll now need to get a direct democratic mandate to do it.”