It is misleading of county councillors to use the government’s ‘freeze grant’ as an excuse for not raising council tax to help fund essential services such as social care.
The reward to West Sussex County Council for freezing its council tax is a mere one per cent of the county’s total council tax revenue, so a rise by any more than one per cent would bring real increase in the money available to offset the drastic cuts in things like care for disabled people.
Of course, nobody likes to have their taxes increased, but it is wrong to protect taxpayers from the normality of inflation by making disabled people suffer even more hardship and misery.
Councillors presumably think 2.7 per cent is a modest allowance for inflation – because that’s the pay increase they’ve agreed for themselves. Raising council tax by the same figure would bring in a net increase (after grant loss) of £6.5m. That’s quite a lot towards reducing the huge cuts to vital services.
Declining to do this is clearly not a decision taken on economic grounds – it can only be with electioneering in mind. It may backfire if enough electors feel uncomfortable at having their votes canvassed at such cost to less fortunate citizens.