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Sharp BCC council tax rise could be introduced without taxpayers' consent
A DRASTIC rise in council tax could be introduced next year without the required agreement of residents, it has emerged.
Bucks County Council has already admitted it will have to raise the amount it charges for its portion of the household tax from April next year, with a decision about the extent of the increase expected in February.
But any rise of more than two per cent must be ratified by way of a county-wide referendum, which would not be held until May – a month after the rise has taken effect.
A council spokesman said the referendum would be held back until May as a cost-saving measure to coincide with European elections.
And if residents voted against the proposed increase, all households would need to be re-billed to take into account the overcharge.
Taxpayers’ rejection of a steep rise would seem possible, after a council survey last year revealed 82 per cent of people voted in favour of a council tax freeze.
For the last four years, the government has provided councils in England with extra grants allowing them to freeze council tax rates.
But with the policy coming to an end, residents will feel the brunt as Bucks County Council confirmed it will raise the amount it charges for the household tax.
Martin Phillips, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, said: “We have managed to keep council tax at the same level for four years, but this is no longer an option with the funding cuts imposed by central government.
“We need our residents’ help to decide how much the increase will be.
“The good news is that the council tax increase will give us additional funds to then spend on maintaining our main services to our most vulnerable people and improving the condition of the county's roads, which I know are top priorities for residents.”
BCC receives three quarters of the cash from council tax bills, with district councils getting nine per cent, the fire service taking five per cent and police receiving the remainder.
The council’s tax increase will only affect the portion of the bill directed to BCC, with the other authorities making their own decisions over a possible rise.
A survey has been launched to gather residents’ opinions on the increase and how money should be spent, with councillors using the responses to help calculate the rise.
The survey is available online at www.buckscc.gov.uk/budget and paper copies will be available from libraries, children’s centres, adult learning centres and County Council offices in Aylesbury and Wycombe.
The closing date for responses is November 18,
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