SOLIHULL’S Council Tax payers could be facing an inflation-busting 4.73 per cent increase in their bills.
This is the rise being recommended by officers and which will go before cabinet members next week. Householders living in Band D properties will have to stump up an extra £1 a week.
Last year’s increase was agreed at 4.5 per cent, while the rate of inflation currently stands at 3.1 per cent.
The rise will come as bad news for pensioners, many of whom live on interest from savings and investments and have seen their income plummet in the current financial crisis.
Single pensioners, who have to pay up three-quarters of their council tax bill, are likely to be the hardest hit.
Solihull Council continues to suffer from meagre Government grants and receives the lowest settlement of all the metropolitan councils. In January the council found out that the increase in this year’s settlement would be a paltry 1.75 per cent.
But despite the lack of backing from central Government and tough economic conditions, Cllr Ken Hawkins, cabinet member for resources, is pleased that the recommended rise is the same as Solihull Council predicted last year.
“We’re pleased that we’re on target to meet last year prediction. I want to thank our officers for working so hard on this budget. Being such a lean council, it’s been a very challenging budget for us, but I think we’ve come up with something which is balanced.
“I think I speak for all councillors when I say that the Government grant is measly and inevitably we have to rely more on Council Tax than those authorities which receive better settlements.
“As times goes on we are having to think about budgets earlier and earlier and as soon as we have agreed this year’s, we are going to start thinking how we are going to make efficiency savings over the next 12 months.”
The 4.73 per cent rise is not the final figure and councillors from all parties still have some weeks before the final budget is agreed - it goes to Full Council on March 2.