In Brief

Council tax bills jump £76 - and services are still being cut

More than 90 per cent of local authorities increase bills as they struggle to make ends meet

Council tax bills are set to rise across the UK by up to £76 this year, although services are still set to be cut "noticeably" as a crisis in local authority funding mounts.

According to a survey by the Local Government Information Unit, taken among 131 of the 375 local authorities of England and Wales, 94 per cent of councils will increase bills by an average of more than 1.5 per cent, says Sky News.

Many are planning an increase of the full five per cent allowed before a referendum of residents is needed, adding £76 to the average household's annual bill, says the Daily Telegraph.

Core council tax rises are currently capped at two per cent before a referendum must be called, but for those authorities also responsible for providing adult social care services, a further three per cent can be added to meet a growing funding shortfall in this area.

However, the councils say this will not be enough, with more than nine in ten of those polled planning to increase service charges for the likes of parking, garden waste collections and cemeteries or crematoriums.

Even then, more than ten per cent say they will "not have enough funding to meet their legal obligations this year", while 42 per cent said they would impose "noticeable" cuts.

"Although councils cannot go bankrupt… there are fears that a handful will become technically insolvent because they have insufficient money to deliver core services," The Guardian says.

The crisis arrived at Theresa May's door this week, after the Labour Party revealed leak text messages suggesting Surrey County Council had received a "sweetheart deal" to cancel its referendum on a proposed 15 per cent council tax hike.

But the survey reveals four other councils also cancelled proposed above-cap rises set for this year.

Nine out of authorities admit council tax rises are "not a viable way" to tackle the black hole in care funding, says Sky.

Despite council tax increases, social care is currently projected to be underfunded to the tune of billions of pounds this year and that is increasing pressure on the wider NHS.

Local authorities' budgets faced cuts of 40 per cent in the parliament between 2010 and 2015 and their spending is still being squeezed, although the government says it has made £900m of additional funding available over the next two years.

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