Last week was the deadline for councils across England to tell the Government whether they plan to raise council taxes by 2% to pay for social care.
The freedom to increase local taxes by 2%, above a previous 2% cap, was announced in last year’s Autumn Statement.
Until now, councils have been free to increase tax rates by 2% for any purpose but any hike above this would have to be put to a local referendum.
Chancellor George Osborne’s Autumn Statement said an additional 2% could be charged without a referendum, as long as all of the extra money was directed to social care.
It is so far unclear how many councils in England will take up this opportunity, but those in Yorkshire have broken cover and said that they are considering using the new power to raise money as they struggle to meet the growing cost of elderly care.
The Yorkshire Post reports that Rotherham, Barnsley, Wakefield, East Riding, Leeds, Bradford, Kirklees and North Yorkshire have confirmed they are contemplating the move but stressed councillors will have the final say as part of their budget process in the coming weeks.
North Yorkshire County Council leader Carl Les told the paper that it expected to raise an extra £5 million for social care, but that could cover only have the forecasted increase in social care costs.
Bradford Council leader David Green also criticised the Government’s rush to implement the changes. “The Government has set this timetable ignoring the need, also a Government requirement, for local councils to consult on their draft budget, and as some councils have not even produced theirs yet, the timetable for them to give absolute conformation is unrealistic if consultation is to be meaningful,” he told the Yorkshire Post.