Council tax income in Lewes increased by £6.2 million last year

A council tax bill pa/POLITICS Councils 06585592.JP
A council tax bill pa/POLITICS Councils 06585592.JP

Income from council tax collected in the Lewes district increased by £6.2 million last year, new figures show.

The Local Government Association, which represents councils in England, said “unprecedented cuts” were driving council tax rates up across the country.

Lewes District Council collected £64 million from council tax between April and December last year, according to the latest figures from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government.

This was an increase of 10.7 per cent compared to the same period during the 2017-18 financial year, when it collected £57.8 million.

Although LDC is the collecting authority the majority of the money actually goes to West Sussex County Council, with Sussex Police and LDC also receiving a share.

Across England, council tax income increased by 6.4 per cent over the same period, climbing to £25.2 billion for the nine-month period.

A spokesman for the LGA said: “Councils do all they can to keep council tax as low as possible but, faced with unprecedented funding cuts, are increasingly being left with no choice but to increase it to help fund vital services.

“Councils will be asking people to pay similar levels of council tax this year while at the same time warning communities that the quality and quantity of services they enjoy could drop.”

Local authorities face a funding gap of £8 billion by 2025, he added, warning that the Government’s upcoming Spending Review would be “make or break” for local services.

The Taxpayers Alliance has rejected the claims, however, saying councils across the country are wasting money on high salaries, parties, and PR departments.

Chief executive John O’Connell said: “Household budgets are under strain and hard-pressed families simply cannot afford these sharp increases to their council tax bill.”

The average council tax bill for a band D property in Lewes increased by 3.2 per cent between 2017-18 and 2018-19 – lower than the average 5.1 per cent increase seen across England.

In addition, fewer low-income households are claiming a discount on their council tax, with the number of claimants falling from 6,423 to 6,208 last year, a drop of three per cent.

The LGA said many councils had “little choice” but to reduce the discounts on offer to residents.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government said other factors could be behind increases in council tax revenue, including collection of historic council tax debt or a growth in the number of homes in an area.

A spokeswoman said: “We are providing local authorities with access to £91.5 billion over the next two years to help councils meet their residents’ needs.

“Councils, not central government, are responsible for managing their own resources, including the collection of council tax.

“Taxpayers can veto excessive increases via a local referendum.”

:: Harriet Clugston, Data Reporter