Theresa May’s own constituents are facing a hike in council tax to cover Government cuts, her local Tory council has warned.
Maidenhead and Windsor’s leader Simon Dudley said on Friday that he could be forced to raise more money from residents in order to “protect the most vulnerable” from Whitehall funding shortfalls.
The move would cause further embarrassment for the Prime Minister after Conservative-run Surrey County Council revealed it planned to raise council tax by 15% to help fund care for the elderly.
Dudley told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that Surrey was simply a “canary in a coalmine” and other councils would be forced to follow suit.
“I don’t like putting tax up but we are faced with having to do that,” he said.
“There will be other local authorities that are faced with incredibly difficult decisions over preserving broader council services and protecting the vulnerable.”
May, whose Parliamentary seat is Maidenhead in Berkshire, has been accused by several Tory town hall chiefs of failing to give them the funds needed to cope with the growing social care and NHS crisis.
Chancellor Philip Hammond and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt, whose constituencies are in Surrey, also face the political humiliation of their ‘backyard’ councils threatening tax hikes to counter cuts.
Surrey council leader David Hodge said he had been forced to call a referendum on a rise in tax after an annual grant from the Government was cut by £170 million, which left a “huge gap” in the council’s budget.
On Friday Dudley told the Today Programme he would also be forced to raise taxes by 3.95 percent next year to fund social care.
The Communities Secretary Sajid Javid last month approved a rise in council tax by an extra percentage point next year to tackle a gap in social care funding.
But some councils have warned they may need to raise taxes further, meaning they would have to call a referendum for residents.
A spokesperson for Theresa May said the Prime Minister had made it clear that a “longer term solution” was needed on social care.
“At the end of the day, this is a referendum for the local residents of Surrey on whether they want to accept the proposition of a 15 per cent rise in council tax that has been put to them,” they said.