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Lib Dems condemn biggest council tax rise in country for Surrey

January 19, 2017 12:17 PM
Originally published by Surrey County Council Lib Dems
Cllr Hazel Watson outside County Hall

Cllr Hazel Watson

Liberal Democrat county councillors in Surrey have condemned the Conservative-run county council which has today published its proposals to hike council tax by a massive 15% - the largest increase in the country and 9 times the rate of inflation.

If approved, this unprecedented increase would trigger a county-wide referendum on the proposals, with voters going to the polls on the same day as the county council elections in May of this year. A yes vote would add a 15% increase a year to bills for Band D properties and would still result in millions of pounds worth of cuts to essential services. A no vote would result in even more damaging cuts which is why Liberal Democrats have consistently called for a more appropriate level of funding from central government to the county council to help avoid large cuts to vital services for Surrey residents.

Cllr Hazel Watson, Leader of the Liberal Democrat councillors on Surrey County Council, said today:

"Liberal Democrat councillors on Surrey County Council oppose this huge increase in council tax which would be the largest increase in the country and is 9 times the rate of inflation. A 15% increase would be unaffordable for many Surrey residents and would hit the elderly and those on fixed-incomes hardest. It would be quite wrong for the Tories to try and shift this funding problem onto Surrey residents.

"Liberal Democrats revealed in December 2016 that the Conservative administration were considering a large increase in council tax. This information was obtained from a leak to the Municipal Journal magazine but this is not the way in which councillors should find out about Tory plans for the budget. Given the impact that this rise would have on Surrey residents, the Conservative administration should not have kept these plans under wraps until the last minute.

"It is astonishing that the Conservative-administration think Surrey residents should carry the can for their own financial failings and the government's failure to properly fund services. The crisis in the funding of adult social care needs a long-term solution from national government not a temporary sticking plaster, which is what a large council tax rise would offer.

"A national solution is required for the funding of adult social care to meet the growth in demand but the Conservative administration has failed in its negotiations with central government, even though 3 Cabinet Ministers, including the Chancellor, are Surrey MPs and both the council and central government are Conservative-controlled.

"Liberal Democrat county councillors across Surrey will oppose this 15% council tax hike - the biggest increase in the country - as Surrey residents should not have to pick up the bill for the Tory-run county council's financial mess".