OPPOSITION leaders on Dudley Council have vowed to block plans to hike up council tax by almost five per cent.
Dudley UKIP leader, Councillor Paul Brothwood, and Dudley Conservative group leader, Councillor Patrick Harley, have confirmed they will not support the Labour group’s bid to increase council tax by 4.99 per cent.
The council’s cabinet originally approved a 3.99 per cent rise last November as part of measures to save the authority £18million in 2017/18 but soon after the government gave the green light for authorities to increase the adult social care precept from two per cent to three per cent to help fund care for the elderly, disabled and people in need.
In light of this - authority bosses have proposed a 4.99 per cent increase, with three per cent going to fund adult social care and 1.99 per cent going to the general fund as planned.
But both UKIP and the Conservatives have hit out against the rise.
Cllr Brothwood has already branded it “unpalatable” and said his group would vote against it - and Cllr Harley said at last week’s cabinet meeting on February 8: “My group will not support a five per cent increase for the council tax.
"We will support three per cent for the social care precept for the next two years and for a third if the government allows but that support is not unconditional.
"We would like to know where it’s being spent. It’s important to know where we are going to put the additional funding. It’s not peanuts - it’s nearly £14million of additional funding.
"We want to know where it’s going and that it’s being targeted against groups that need it the most.”
But he said his group would be arguing for just a one per cent increase in the general council tax fund rather than a two per cent rise.
Cllr Brothwood added that UKIP councillors would not “support one of the largest council tax rises in Dudley’s history”.
Councillor David Sparks, Dudley’s cabinet member for finance, however, denied it was one of the largest rises and said council tax in Dudley would remain one of the lowest in the country despite the proposed increase.
He stressed the money would go towards vital spending on adult social care and said the matter would be debated in detail at full council where all groups would have chance to put forward proposals.
But he defended the bid put forward by Labour to help balance the books, saying: “This is the most prudent thing that we should do on this council at this particular time."
A final vote will be taken at full council on Monday March 6.