Birmingham council 'storing up tax hikes' until after elections

Birmingham council ‘storing up tax hikes’ until after elections

The Labour-run Birmingham City Council is storing up council tax hikes until after the May local elections, the opposition has claimed.

It comes after Labour revealed its final budget would include a total council tax rise of almost four per cent – one per cent less than that announced in a draft proposal late last year.

But the Conservatives claim that by next year taxpayers will be £13.40 out of pocket as deferred increases come in.

In May, all 101 city council seats will be up for grabs in the local election and there will be no further full election until 2022.

Meanwhile, Lib Dems have hit out at an injection of just £200,000 extra spending on cleaner streets, saying it is not enough to tackle the plague of fly-tipping and litter.

The final budget, which is due to be voted through by the city council’s Labour majority on February 27, will see £53 million cuts following further reductions in government grants.

But Labour bosses said they had listened on several key issues, including reducing the tax hike, freezing burial and cremation fees and not introducing charges for library book reservations.

The budget also injects £468 million into new homes, council house upgrades and regeneration projects and £30.4 million extra for adult social care.

Council Leader Coun Ian Ward said: “We have listened and, even at a time of continuing government cuts, we are investing in the services that matter most to the people of Birmingham.

“It’s also clear that many households are struggling with the increased cost of living, so the council tax increase will now be lower than the one we consulted on.

“We have to make cuts of £53 million for 2018/19 and inevitably that has meant having to make some difficult decisions.”

His Conservative rival Coun Robert Alden responded, saying: “Last week, Labour tried to pull the wool over residents’ eyes, claiming they had listened to residents and wouldn’t put council tax up by as much.

“It is now revealed that the planned increase after the all-out elections is in fact over twice the amount first published.

“Residents will be paying £13.40 more after two years, leaving them worse off than before.”

Lib Dem leader Coun Jon Hunt added: “The city leader promises investment in ‘cleaner, greener streets’ but the £200,000 is a fraction of what is needed to tackle fly-tipping, littering, low recycling rates and the deteriorating quality of bin collections.

“Labour continues to have its head buried well and truly in the sand about the dreadful state of the city.”

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