WARRINGTON residents face a 4.98 per cent council tax increase – but the leader has accused the Government of being ‘heartless’ amid funding fears.

Local authorities in England will be able to raise council tax by five per cent from April, with three per cent used to top up adult social care budgets.

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer said this meant those living in a band D property could see bills rise by an average of £90.

He added that the Prime Minister should provide extra funding to councils.

Writing in the Sunday Telegraph, he said: “It is absurd that during the deepest recession in 300 years, at the very time millions are worried about the future of their jobs and how they will make ends meet, Boris Johnson and [Chancellor] Rishi Sunak are forcing local government to hike up council tax.

“The Prime Minister said he would do ‘whatever is necessary’ to support local authorities in providing vital services – he needs to make good on that promise.”

Labour-run Warrington Borough Council continues to voice concerns over the budget cuts it has faced over the past decade, as well as urging the Government to fully reimburse it for coronavirus-related costs.

Warrington Guardian:

Warrington Town Hall

Leader Cllr Russ Bowden said: “What are we going to do as an administration when we know we’ve got some incredibly vulnerable people in our town?

“Two-thirds of the council’s money is spent on vulnerable children and adults, are we really going to not ask the people of Warrington for some additional funding so we can continue to provide those services to those vulnerable people? The answer has to be no, that comes down to values, and that’s where we will always differ from this heartless, shameless Government.

“At the moment, like many councils across the country, we’re looking at having to take the full three per cent adult social care precept, on top of the 1.98 per cent to avoid the threshold limit.”

Labour Warrington North MP Charlotte Nichols also criticised the Government.

She said: “Last March, the Government told us that it ’stands with local councils’ and would fund ‘whatever is necessary’ during the coronavirus crisis. They are yet to foot the bill and, instead, are shifting this to local council taxpayers in Warrington.

Warrington Guardian:

MP Charlotte Nichols

“After wasting billions on a failed Test and Trace and dodgy PPE contracts the least they can do is pay Warrington its fair share for what it has done this crisis.

“This is highly cynical and would be a real blow to family incomes here in Warrington.”

But Conservative Warrington South MP Andy Carter says ‘no one is being forced to hike up’ council tax.

He added: “It is up to local councils to raise, lower or maintain council tax levels.

“Local government referendum principles protect people from excessive increases, while also providing councils with options should they feel it is necessary, it’s right that local councillors are held account for the taxation and spending decisions they take.

“During the current year Warrington Borough Council has received £102 million, including support for businesses, in Government funding.

Warrington Guardian:

MP Andy Carter

“For 2021 the settlement for the year ahead gives Warrington Council an extra £6.76 million as part of an extra £2.2 billion available to fund critical public services across the country.

“Within this, the Government is giving councils access to an additional £1 billion for adult and children’s social care, made up of £300m of social care grants and the option of a three per cent adult social care precept.

“The provisions will also allow locally elected councillors to choose how best to support Warrington residents.

“In addition, a further £670 million of funding is being provided to help local authorities support households that are least able to afford council tax payments in 2021-22 and of course anyone who is facing difficulties can apply for assistance to the council.”