How much council tax will I have to pay next year?

Adrian Williams

Adrian Williams

adrianw@baylismedia.co.uk

Council tax is once again set to rise at the highest rate it can this coming year – by around £33 for an average (Band D) household.

The increase is the equivalent of about 64p per week.

Despite this, it will remain one of the lowest council taxes in the country, said the leader, ‘hundreds of pounds cheaper than our Berkshire neighbours.’

Band D council tax in the Borough is rising from £1,131 to £1,165. By comparison, Band D in Bracknell Forest is £1,445 for 2022/23; £1,535 for Slough; and £1,668 for Wokingham.

Decisions under previous Conservative administrations to freeze or lower council tax over a number of years were criticised by CIPFA in its damning report into the Royal Borough’s finances in 2020.

A larger council tax hike can save a local authority from having to cut services to balance its budget. Council tax contributes to about 80 per cent of net council expenditure.

If the council does not increase council tax up to the maximum level, this has ‘a significant impact’ on the scale of the financial gap that it faces, the Borough says.

A council can only increase council tax bills by 2.99 per cent each year. A third of this increase is ring-fenced for spending on adult social care.

If a council wants to increase bills any more, the authority must hold a referendum.

Council leader Andrew Johnson (Con, Hurley and Walthams) has been recently lobbying the Government to raise or abolish the cap without needing a referendum.

If this is permitted, he aims to increase council tax to a similar level to other nearby councils, as a means to restore financial stability to the borough.

Leader of the local independents, Cllr Lynne Jones, raised concerns that despite the planned council tax increases for 2022/23, the borough will struggle to keep up with increasing costs.

“A three per cent increase in our council tax is much less for this borough than in others, because we’re starting from a lower (base),” she said.

“Demand on children’s services is going up and up and until something changes, the gap between us and other councils is getting bigger and bigger. The council is waiting for the Government to say it can up council tax (beyond the three per cent cap). We have just got to survive until that happens.”

Though the council continues to lobby Government ‘within reason’ to raise the cap, Cllr Johnson said that it would be ‘incredibly difficult’ to ask residents for more at this time.

The most vulnerable people will continue to be protected through the Council Tax Support Scheme, which covers up to 91.5 per cent of council tax liability for working-age people and 100 per cent for pension age.

“We also provide individual hardship relief if anyone needs additional support,” said Cllr Johnson.

“(We) have included within the budget some additional support workers to provide tailored help to individuals and families who may need additional advice.”

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