RESIDENTS have been warned a ‘large’ increase in council tax seems inevitable.

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has forecast that English councils will need billions more from the Government and big council tax rises to maintain services and pay for social care reforms.

It forecasts, under current Government spending plans, council tax increases of 3.6 per cent per year will be needed for the next three years just to ensure local authorities can provide the same range and quality of services in 2024-25 as was provided before the pandemic.

However, it states bigger increases in underlying demand and cost pressures, or top-ups to other budgets such as schools which eat into the amount available for grants to councils, could easily push up the necessary council tax rises to five per cent per year, or by over £220 by 2024-25.

In addition, it highlighted that the Government’s stated ambitions for social care are underfunded. It states these are likely to cost £5 billion a year in the longer term, almost three times the additional annual funding currently allocated over the next three years.

These are among the findings of new analysis, published as a pre-released chapter of the 2021 IFS green budget, funded by the Nuffield Foundation and in partnership with Citi.

Looking ahead to the forthcoming spending review, the chapter finds that relying on council tax alone to deal with funding pressures is unlikely to be sustainable.

It forecasts council tax increases alone are unlikely to be sufficient to meet costs for local authorities over the next two years given the continuing need for some additional coronavirus-related spending.

The average Band D taxpayer in areas without a parish council, in Warrington, has faced a £86 rise this year after a 4.98 per cent council tax increase.

Labour-run Warrington Borough Council has been asked whether it expects to increase council tax by 4.98 per cent again next year.

A spokesman said: “We await the outcome of the Government’s spending review and further details on their proposal for funding adult social care before we can formally make a decision on the required level of council tax increase in Warrington, which will of course require full council approval in March 2022.

“Warrington continues to have one of the lowest Band D council tax levels in the north west, as well as being one of the lowest funded authorities in England.”

Cllr Bob Barr, leader of the town’s Liberal Democrats, has also commented on the matter.

He said: “Commentators predict whopping increases in council tax around the country next year.

“Warrington has a low level of Government funding and has had to make up its revenue from investment income.

“A budget crunch has been anticipated in Warrington. Services have been cut down so much that making further savings is difficult. A large council tax increase seems inevitable.

“Two thirds of Warrington’s spending is on social care and children’s services. The Prime Minister’s claim, that social care is fixed, is nonsense.

“The NHS waiting lists will take years to clear, leaving council taxpayers to pick up the bill for social care.”

The Conservatives, the Opposition group, have been asked for a comment.