RESIDENTS across the Dudley borough will be hit with a council tax rise of nearly five per cent from April.

Dudley Council approved a 4.99 per cent increase at a meeting of the full council on Monday March 4.

Councillors agreed a 2.99 per cent increase in the basic rate of council tax plus an additional two per cent increase which will go to services for older and vulnerable people.

The rise, from April 1, equates to £1.17 per week for a typical Band B property.

Council chiefs say Dudley residents will continue to pay some of the lowest council tax bills in the country and that the rise is part of a raft of measures needed to ensure the authority staves off the threat of bankruptcy as it battles to stop-up a £5.5million hole in its finances.

The shortfall is set to rise to £12m by 2026/27, with the council’s reserves predicted to run dry in two years.

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Tory-run Dudley Council, said: “This increase is essential if we are to get this authority back on an even-footing financially. We are taking a firmer grip on our own finances and have worked hard to set a sustainable budget whilst protecting essential services.”

Labour opposition members have not protested against the rise – with the party’s local leader agreeing it is needed.

Councillor Pete Lowe, leader of Dudley Labour Party, added: “The council’s historically low council tax rates have compounded the current financial pressures. The increase is about doing everything in our gift to reverse that issue.

“We have to take politics out of this issue and focus on what everyone came into local government to do – provide services for local people.”

The council tax rise, along with a raft of other spending-control measures including a recruitment freeze, were put forward after a Local Government Association-led peer review highlighted concerns about the council’s financial position.