THE Government should fund any county rise in council tax – that’s the message from Labour Councillor Robin Lunn as County Hall gets set to put forward its budget today (Thursday).
Putting forward the party’s alternative budget, Coun Lunn, who leads the Labour group in Worcestershire said: “In this year of all years we are calling for the Government to fund centrally the equivalent of a 1.5 per cent rise in council tax and an additional two per cent rise in the monies that go to social care, looking after the older and most vulnerable in society.”
The increase he said, would be the equivalent of an £8.75million rise in council tax.
“So many people have struggled to cope with three lockdowns, people have been furloughed or lost their jobs, to impose additional costs on people would be in effect a ‘Covid tax’,” he said.
“People are struggling to cope, their bills for heating, food and increased internet use are all going up.
“We are deeply concerned about many people’s ability to pay, incomes are being cut and bills are rising, which is creating a perfect storm of debt.
“The working poor, those on low incomes and people running small businesses, simply cannot afford higher and increased council tax bills.
“A national crisis should be solved nationally, not by passing the costs onto the council tax payers of Worcestershire.”
He added that a further concern was that the proposed budget from the Conservatives was leaving a £76m hole over the 2022-2024 financial years.
“This is a massive challenge and we call on the Conservatives to answer how they will fund this huge shortfall,” he said.
“All this when the number of people over 70 years old in the county has risen from 83,000 in 2014 to 99,500 now.
With adult social care taking the bulk of council tax, and then children’s services it means that other services are squeezed.”
The county council elections in May will be on same day as borough and district elections and the poll for the Police and Crime Commissioner of West Mercia Police.