COUNTY council plans to raise its share of the Council Tax bill by 2.5 per cent from April have been savaged by Labour who claim an ‘unfair burden’ will be put on residents.
Evesham Labour candidates for May’s poll spoke out after the ruling Conservative group at County Hall revealed its proposals last week.
Helen Russell, who will stand in Evesham North and West, and Mary Campbell who will contest the election in the Littletons revealed their anger at the plans which could see the average Band D property pay around £33 a year more.
Tories have defended the move, expected to be approved by full council next month, and said funds were needed to care for the county’s most vulnerable.
But their claims were rubbished by Miss Russell who echoed party leader Sir Keir Starmer’s calls for the government to increase public spending rather than forcing local authorities to find the money through tax rises
‘We recognise councils are suffering from years of Conservative inflicted-austerity and need an increase in funding but creating further financial burdens for hard hit taxpayers is not the answer,” she said.
“Yet again, this Tory government is failing to get to grips with the crisis in council funding, especially in social care, and passing the buck to local authorities.
“This in turn passes an unfair burden onto many people at a challenging time when what we need is greater fairness,” she added.
Mrs Campbell added: “This increase would take no account of the way the pandemic has affected people differently. Many families have lost jobs, seen income plummet while shielding, or become reliant on the vagaries of Universal Credit. This would add yet more misery for such families at the worst possible time.
In response, county council leader Coun Simon Geraghty said: “I totally understand any rise in council tax is something which has to be carefully considered and is not something that any member of any political party really wants to do.
“But ultimately the services for the most vulnerable people in society and investments in things the public have said they want to see improve have to be funded.
“It is always a judgement call and a balance. We try to keep council tax in Worcestershire as low as possible given the circumstances and we are in the lowest 25 per cent for all county councils for council tax.
“If we were to go much lower, we wouldn’t be funding pressures in adult and children’s social care or tackling the things people say they want,” he added.