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Top Stories: Council Tax To Rise By Maximum Rate, Real Terms Pay Falls

Council tax is set to rise by a maximum 5 per cent in many areas (Alamy)

4 min read

Almost three quarters of authorities in England are set to increase council tax by the maximum allowance of five per cent this year, new data suggests.

Figures from the County Councils Network show that 74 per cent of councils who have confirmed their plans will be rising bills by almost five per cent for the next financial year, 2023/24. 

Councils are allowed to put bills up by 4.99 per cent, with 2.99 per cent of that for council tax, and 1.99 per cent for social care. Overall, 84 of the 113 councils who have shared their plans so far say they will use these top figures.

This means that the average Band D household will see their overall bill increase by £99 across the year. 

Councillor Sam Corcoran, vice-chairman of the County Councils Network, called on Chancellor Jeremy Hunt to provide “further help” in next month’s Budget.

“We all recognise the cost of living crisis is impacting on every household in the country and disproportionately on low incomes, but we have little choice but to propose council tax rises again next year, with many local authorities reluctantly opting for maximum rises,” he said.

Real terms pay falls against inflation

Real terms pay fell by 3.1 per cent in the year to this winter, according to new figures from the Office for National Statistics.

The latest labour market overview data shows that when adjusted for inflation, growth in total and regular pay fell on the year in October to December 2022. 

The drop was 3.1 per cent for total pay, which includes bonuses, and 2.5 per cent for regular pay, which excludes bonuses. 

The ONS said this “remains among the largest falls in growth since comparable records began in 2001”. 

The Liberal Democrats have called on the government to “put in place a proper windfall tax and cancel April’s energy bill rise".

Sarah Olney, Lib Dem Treasury spokesperson said: “This Conservative government has hammered families with soaring mortgages, rising energy bills and huge unfair tax hikes.

“Hard-working people are having their pay squeezed thanks to the incompetence of Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt.” 

The same figures from the ONS show that almost 850,000 working days were lost due to strike action in December, which is the highest number since November 2011. 

Jonathan Dimbleby calls on BBC chair Richard Sharp to "fall on his sword" over Boris Johnson loan knowledge

Veteran broadcaster Jonathan Dimbleby has said that BBC chair Richard Sharp should “honourably [...] fall on his sword” over revelations that he had advised then-prime minister Boris Johnson on his finances around the time of his appointment to the role. 

Speaking to Newsnight on Monday, Dimbleby said the BBC “needs this like it needs a hole in the head” and called on Sharp to “stand aside”. 

Over the weekend, a committee of MPs ruled that Sharp made "significant errors of judgement" over his role in the facilitation of a loan to Johnson.

In their report, they called on him to "consider the potential damage to trust" in the corporation caused by the affair.

In January The Sunday Times reported that Sharp helped Johnson secure an £800,000 loan weeks before he was announced as BBC chairman, by connecting cabinet secretary Simon Case with Sam Blyth, a Canadian businessman and distant cousin of the then-PM. 

Speaking to Newsnight, Dimbleby said: “I have no doubt he is an honourable man, no reason do I have to doubt that. But what he should do honourably is to fall on his sword and say ‘in the interest of the BBC which I care about I don’t want this to go on and on and on, I shall stand aside’.”

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