Band D council taxpayers face £1,400 bill

PUBLISHED: 14:58 04 March 2008 | UPDATED: 13:01 06 May 2010

HOUSEHOLDS in the St Albans district are facing council tax rises of around four per cent in April. People living in the average Band D property will face an annual council tax bill of £1,399 in 2008/9 – with some variations in areas affected by parish co

HOUSEHOLDS in the St Albans district are facing council tax rises of around four per cent in April.

People living in the average Band D property will face an annual council tax bill of £1,399 in 2008/9 - with some variations in areas affected by parish council precepts such as Harpenden and the villages.

This bulk of the money raised by council tax goes to Herts County Council which has raised its share of the bill by 4.45 per cent. The district council has increased its precept by 3.5 per cent and the cost of policing has risen by just under five per cent.

St Albans District Council agreed to its increase at a meeting last week at which Lib Dem council leader Robert Donald said the 3.5 per cent rise was below the Retail Price Index (RPI) of 4.1 per cent.

He pointed out that the annual Government grant, which contributes 80 per cent to a council's revenue, had increased by just one per cent.

Tory councillor Julian Daly criticised the fact that savings had been made by reducing funding to leisure facilities, street cleaning and provision for a cinema in 2008/9. And Labour councillor Roma Mills said she did not support the budget because the rise was above the 3.1 per cent Consumer Price Index (CPI) rate of inflation.

* Campaign group the Taxpayers Alliance blames the rising bill to fund public sector workers' pensions for part of the increase in UK council tax settlements.

Herts council taxpayers forked out £41 each in 2006/7 to pay the £42,897,000 bill for county council workers' pensions which has grown 11.4 per cent since the previous year.

Residents of St Albans each paid a further £12 in 2006/7 for the district council £2,250,000 pensions bill which grew 2.1 per cent over the previous year.

The Local Government Pension Scheme is linked to final salary and allows employees to retire aged 60 on full index-linked benefits.

Alliance chairman Andrew Allum said: "It is unacceptable that ordinary families and pensioners who struggle to pay inflated council tax bills see so much of their money spent on gold-plated council pensions that have all but disappeared in the wider economy."

* Council-house tenants are facing an average rent increase of just under seven per cent from the beginning of April.

Forty-four per cent of the district's council tenants who do not qualify for housing benefits will see their rents go up from between 2.82 and 9.53 per cent.

Speaking at the council meeting, Cllr Donald said council tenants had been targeted by the Government and would have had to pay a 10 per cent rent rise had council officers not found efficiencies to reduce it to 6.91 percent.

He added: "The fact that 47 per cent of their rent is going straight to the Government and 75 per cent of the money raised through the sale of council properties is surely a direct attack on council tenants.

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