Birmingham taxpayers to suffer council tax hike after Gove approves request

Council tax for Birmingham residents will be allowed to rise to 10% after the government approved the council’s request for an increase.

Leader of Birmingham City Council Cllr John Cotton, wrote to the government in December to secure permission for the hike above the legal limit of 4.99% without holding a referendum.

Now the levelling-up secretary Michael Gove has said he will not block the 5% rise that is to combat a £760m equal pay liability, an £80m IT overspend and a series of budget cuts.

Gove confirmed the news in a written statement saying: “It is disappointing that Birmingham City taxpayers are having to foot the bill for the council’s poor governance and decision making.

“Whilst the government will not oppose this request given the seriousness of the circumstances, any decision to increase council tax is solely one for Birmingham City Council, who should have taken into account the pressures that people in Birmingham are currently facing on living costs.”

Commissioners which have taken over the effectively bankrupt Labour-run authority have set the challenge for the council to identify £300m worth of savings over the next two years. So far, £231m has been earmarked, but analysis now indicates that the budget gap may rise to tens of millions over the original £300m.

The increase in tax will be revealed in a budget meeting which was postponed by one week to March 5.

For other stricken councils such as Thurrock Council, Slough Borough Council, and Woking Borough Council, a council tax referendum principle of 10% will apply (for Thurrock and Slough, this comprises 2% for expenditure on adult social care, and 8% for other expenditure).

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