COUNCIL tax bills in Solihull are to rise by 3.49 per cent for the forthcoming financial year, 2021-22.
Of that, 1.5 per cent will be ringfenced for adult social care with the remaining 1.9 per cent earmarked for general expenditure.
The increase takes a Band D property to £1,460 and represents an increase of just under £50.
The rise had been approved by the Conservative authority’s Cabinet earlier in the month and was rubber stamped by full council last Thursday, February 26, despite the oppositions parties voting against.
Green group leader Councillor Steve Caudwell (Castle Bromwich) said: “Throughout the Covid pandemic we have seen the UK government waste squillions of pounds and the word has obviously come down from the Cabinet Office to squeeze residents for more cash.
“Yet people tend to forget that Solihull has some of the poorest residents in the country and they are being asked to pay money they simply cannot afford.”
Liberal Democrat group leader Coun Ade Adeyemo (Lyndon) said: “A few months ago, Liberal Democrat and Green Party members argued that there should be a full discount, i.e., zero council tax, for the poorest in our society.
“Conservative councillors voted unanimously against that suggestion.
“We are now being asked to hike up council tax by 3.49 per cent – a proposal that will saddle the poorest in our society with more debt. It is simply not fair to put this extra burden on those who are least able to pay.
“To make matters worse, Solihull Council is spending a great deal of money chasing these very people for council tax they cannot afford to pay. How does that make sense?”
Three proposals put forward by the Greens, to establish a fairness commission; to provide funding for community and co-operative house building and a scheme for providing low cost energy improvements were all defeated.
Council Leader Coun Ian Courts (Dorridge and Hockley Heath) said that, in a difficult year for all local authorities they had delivered a balanced budget that supported jobs and communities.
He added that the council tax rise had also been kept below the maximum permitted of 4.99 per cent.
“We have one of the lowest council taxes in the West Midlands and I’m really quite proud of the work this council and its officers have done to find solutions and support the people of Solihull.”