Council tax rise for Blackpool residents

Council tax bills are set to rise once  more
Council tax bills are set to rise once more
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Blackpool residents can expect an increase of around three per cent in their council tax when new bills come through the door in April.

The council is proposing to increase its share of the charge by 2.99 per cent, which is the maximum allowed by the government.

It is less than recent increases which have included a precept to pay for adult social care and saw last year's bills go up by 5.99 per cent.

There is no social care precept this year but the final total will include charges to pay for policing and the fire service.

Full details of the new bandings will emerge in coming weeks, with the current charge for an average band D property in the town standing at £1,756.

Blackpool Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said the Government was no longer helping local authorities to keep council tax bills low, while at the same time the cost of paying for adult social care was spiralling.

He said local authorities had had to bridge a £6bn funding shortfall in adult social care since 2010, with costs in that service and children's social care, predicted to rise even further.

Coun Blackburn said: "We froze council tax rates between 2011 and 2015, because the Government gave us money for doing so. Since 2015, that money has been stopped.

"Instead they encouraged councils to increase their council tax to pay for the rising costs of adult social care by raising tax by up to six per cent a year, which we did in both 2017 and 2018.

"This year, we’re looking at half that figure, just under three per cent, although by the time the police commissioner and the fire authority have added their requirements, this figure will likely rise to around 3.4 per cent."

He said it was time the Government re-thought the way services for vulnerable people are funded, and warned the Local Government Association was predicting a £6.5bn gap for social care nationally in the future.

Coun Blackburn said: "The solution to this problem is for the Government to do what it keeps promising to do, publish a green paper on adult social care, change the law, and properly fund care for vulnerable people, our police, and our firefighters, from general taxation, rather than trying to shift the burden on to council tax payers.”

But Coun Tony Williams, leader of the Conservatives on Blackpool Council, said the council had wasted money "on vanity and possibly pointless projects under the claims of regeneration".

He said: "As I predicted this council have opted to hike our council tax to the maximum allowed per cent.

"With Clive Grunshaw, the police and crime commissioner, asking people to agree to a rise in their percentage, it looks like 2019 could see the highest Blackpool council tax rise in history.

"Residents are already not happy they are being forced to pay more for less when it comes to frontline services, and it looks like they are going to have to dig deeper in their pockets this year."

After years of consecutive cuts, another £9m is being slashed from the council's budget in 2019/20.