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District councils demand £25m tax hike powers

The District Councils Network (DCN) has tabled plans with the government for a 2% ‘prevention’ council tax precept aimed at raising an extra £25m.

As part of its submission to the Local Government Finance Settlement, the organisation said there needs to be changes to the reportedly “unfair” council tax system currently in place.

In total, the DCN says its plans could raise as much as £34m for councils to be used to relieve demand on health and care services.

It claims that the current £5 alternative proposal to councils increasing council tax by up to 3% over the next two years causes problems for districts because they generally levy lower taxes, meaning they will miss out on revenue.

Instead of these plans, the DCN suggests allowing districts to impose an upper limit of £7.50, a move it says will raise an extra £9m with relatively little impact on the taxpayer.

In addition, it proposes the introduction of a 2% precept for preventative social care – which it argued would fill in the gaps left by current plans and provide £25m in additional funding for district councils.

Cllr John Fuller, DCN chairman, said there would be 88 councils negatively affected by the current plans, out of the 200 represented by his group.

“The proposals in the settlement need to go further to ensure fairness for shire district areas compared to unitary/metropolitan authorities where the whole council tax charge can be increased to fund social care and prevention issues,” he commented.

“Our 2% prevention precept would reflect the role that districts play in prevention and demand-reduction, such as improving housing, providing leisure and recreational facilities, offering debt advice, tackling homelessness, supporting troubled families and improving air quality all of which help reduce demand on social care and health services.”

Fuller went on to say that spending on prevention at district council level can make a major impact on national health spending, saving money for the NHS.

Top image: Joe Giddens

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