I received my annual council tax bill this week, which has increased by 5.6 per cent on the previous year.
Notwithstanding a 5.7 per cent increase in the police commissioner charge, and adult social care suddenly being itemised outside Northumberland County Council tax and charged as an extra, resulting in a further two per cent increase, the main eye-opener is East Bedlington Parish Council tax, with an increase of 31.3 per cent.
Over the last four years, while county council tax has increased by 6.1 per cent, parish council tax has increased by 296 per cent. While the county council tax increase is capped at two per cent, parish council tax clearly is not.
Parish council tax has increased from 2.1 per cent to eight per cent of county council tax over the last four years. If that rate of increase is maintained, by the end of this parliament, it will be equal to 30 per cent of county council tax.
And what do we have to show for this staggering increase? Empty flower beds and litter strewn streets.
East Bedlington Parish Council will no doubt blame the Tories for withholding council tax benefit grants, but this should not give it carte blanche to raise taxes at these rates to make up the shortfall. Put simply, this is council tax increase by the back door.
Parish council tax increase should be capped as county council tax, with immediate effect, and justification provided for the unchecked increase over the last four years.
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