DCLG says Rochdale is 'disingenuous' on 3.5% council tax rise

Date published: 08 January 2013

The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) has accused Rochdale Borough Council of being ‘disingenuous and wrong’ for claiming the authority could increase council tax levels by 3.5% without the need to hold a local referendum.

The council believes it has spotted a loophole. This threshold doesn't apply to precepts or levies which the council does not directly control and therefore plans to use the Localism Act to exclude hikes to waste and transport bills from the headline rate of council tax increases.

The unelected Greater Manchester Waste Disposal Authority is planning a 19% increase in its levy, and the unelected Transport for Greater Manchester a 5.8% increase. The decisions are made by (mostly Labour) councillors appointed from the local authorities that constitute their membership. A satisfactory arrangement for the councillors who are paid an array of special responsibility allowances to sit on the assorted committees.

In response, a DCLG spokesman said: "It is disingenuous and wrong for any council to say they can hike basic council tax above two per cent without triggering a referendum."

In 2009, before Labour took control of the Council, Councillor Colin Lambert, commenting on the then Lib Dem council's proposed 3.7% council tax rise, said: "Their council tax rise of 3.7% is outrageous in the current economic climate." Despite the worsening economic climate, Councillor Lambert, now the leader of the council, appears to have changed his tune.

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