Fury at ‘extra’ tax bill rises

Story about  Resident Tony Ward who is angry that precept percentage has gone up by 50%
Story about Resident Tony Ward who is angry that precept percentage has gone up by 50%

Outraged residents claim town councils in Hemsworth, South Elmsall and South Kirkby have increased precepts “twice”.

Householders say they had been expecting increases of up to 30 per cent following precept announcements by the town councils in February, but when council tax bills arrived last month they were shocked to see the precept had almost doubled.

The councils say the increases are due to government cuts in cash subsidy for hundreds of homes across the area.

Tony Ward, of Northfield Avenue, South Kirkby, whose house is in band D, said he had been expecting the town council precept to be 20 per cent.

He said: “I expected an increase but this is much more. They have increased it twice, they told us 20 per cent and now it’s nearly 50 per cent. A lot of families are going to find it a real struggle to find the extra cash.”

The 47-year-old father-of-one said the unexpected rise would mean him forking out an extra £150 a year.

He said: “It’s shocking, really. I just think what are they doing with all this extra money and how, as a resident of the town, will I see benefits?”

South Elmsall Town Council announced its precept would rise by 30 per cent, but council tax bills show a 56.7 per cent rise for band D properties.

South Kirkby and Moorthorpe Town Council’s precept increase was 20 per cent, which is showing on council tax bills as 49.1 per cent for a band D home. Hemsworth Town Council’s precept rise was 26 per cent, showing on bills as 58.2 per cent on a band D property.

The councils issued a joint statement in February informing residents the increases were due to government cuts.

The government has cut costs for subsidising 320 properties in South Elmsall - which means the cost is then spread across the remaining properties.

The same happened for other town councils, including South Kirkby, where the government cut cash subsidy from 923 homes, and for Hemsworth where 808 subsidies were cut.

But Mr Ward added: “It’s not like the councils haven’t known about these cuts. They had two options, do we make savings to reduce money residents have to pay, or just pass the cuts on. They just made the decision to take money from residents without any public consultation. Now it’s too late to do anything about it.

“It’s a huge increase when times are hard for everybody. I am just trying to understand where all this extra money goes and how the town council can justify the rises.”

Steven Tulley, leader of South Elmsall town council, said: “Each year, the level of council tax for the town council is determined by dividing the amount of money required to cover spending on service delivery by the number of properties for which council precept is payable – expressed as Band D equivalents.

“The number of Band D equivalent properties varies each year as a result of new homes being built or demolished and the number of people eligible for discounts.

“This year central government has introduced some changes which have impacted on the number of properties for which council tax is payable, known as the tax base. The government has also decided to end the council tax benefit regime and reduce discounts available to owners of second homes or empty properties. A lower tax base means that a Band D council tax payer will end up paying a greater share of the precept. The changes to the system are not supported by South Elmsall Town Council.”