Thomas Bridge 31 March 2016

Widespread council take-up of social care precept

Widespread council take-up of social care precept image

Almost 95% of eligible authorities are raising council tax to fund adult social care this year, as households face the biggest hike since 2008.

A total of 144 out of 152 London boroughs, counties, metropolitan districts and unitaries in England will be deploying the adult social care precept over 2016-17, raising £382m.

Government figures show average council tax will climb 3.1% on last year to £1,530 for a Band D property.

The figure would have risen just 1.6% without the adult social care precept, which added 1.5% towards the rise.

Research from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accouting suggests a possible £394.3m would have been raised if every eligible local authority had made full use of powers to increase council tax by a further 2% to fund social care.

Chancellor George Osborne claimed such freedoms will help councils raise up to £2bn a year by 2019/20.

He vowed council tax would still be lower in real terms at the decade’s end than it was in 2010-2011, when the average Band D rate was £1,439.

However the Local Government Association has consistently warned the precept will fail to raise enough funding to cover social care costs.

Commenting on today’s figures, communities secretary Greg Clark said: ‘Our historic four-year funding deal for councils both gives them certainty to plan ahead, and meets the clear request to prioritise care for elderly and vulnerable people, with a social care funding package of up to £3.5bn.

‘Today’s figures show how councils are keeping council tax low, and using the freedom they asked for to set a social care precept as part of local bills.

‘Even with this, council tax will still be lower in real terms in 2019/20 than in 2009/10 – and this year’s increase is still lower than the average 6.2% annual increase between 1997 and 2010.’

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