Fareham council leader Sean Woodward asks Michael Gove to change law to allow the authority to impose higher council tax

A COUNCIL leader has written to Michael Gove asking for a law change so a higher level of council tax can be levied.

By Toby Paine
Monday, 10th January 2022, 1:56 pm

Sean Woodward, executive leader of Fareham Borough Council has written to the Secretary of State for Housing to address how low-tax council areas are being penalised with referendum thresholds.

Currently, district councils have to hold a referendum if council tax is to be increased by more than two per cent on a band D property.

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Leader of Fareham Borough Council Sean Woodward Picture: Sarah Standing (090519-7345)

Cllr Woodward said: ‘The proposal I'll be making will be for a one penny per day increase for the average Fareham which is a band C.

‘We’re under tremendous pressure but legally that's the maximum we can increase it by.

‘It is a crazy situation, the legislation is that unless you’re going to have a referendum - which would actually cost more than what you get out of the council tax - you can only increase by 2 per cent or £5 per year whichever is the greater. In Fareham, the greater is £5 for a band D property.

‘Our council tax is almost the lowest in the country so two per cent is almost nothing.

‘You can’t really increase council tax is the reality because a penny a day isn’t going to get us very far.

‘The reality is that only 16 per cent of the cost of running Fareham Borough Council comes from council tax.

‘We spend roughly £47m a year on services and only £7m a year comes from the council tax.

‘We should have more flexibility and I've proposed that we should be able to increase by £10 a year rather than £5 a year.

‘Our spending power diminishes every year, if inflation’s five per cent or six per cent as it will be shortly, we can only add a penny a day to the average bill.’

In his letter, he states that the thresholds should be revisited to address pressures mounted by inflation.

In Hampshire - excluding Portsmouth and Southampton - council tax is made up payments to the county council, which is the lion's share, and to borough and district councils, parish councils where they exist and to the police and fire authorities.