How council tax in Sheffield compares to rest of England after maximum rise
The latest council tax rise in Sheffield took the bill for a typical home in the city past the £1,500 mark for the first time.
But how does the city compare to other parts of the UK in terms of what householders are being asked to pay and how those in power are balancing the books?
New analysis by the BBC Shared Data Unit reveals big differences between council tax rates across the country and the amount of savings town hall chiefs are making in their annual budgets.
In Sheffield the bill for a band D property now stands at £1,512.65 for the current financial year 2021/22 – up by £32.65 from last year.
That is the 88th highest out of 158 upper-tier councils in the UK for which figures were provided.
Nottingham is most expensive, at £2,225.76, while the cheapest council tax bill is in Wandsworth, London, where residents in a band D property pay £845.44.
Due to the pandemic, councils in England were allowed to raise council tax by up to 4.99 per cent this year, with the previous cap being 4 per cent, and Sheffield was one of 73 English councils out of 123 in the study to opt for the maximum permitted rise.
Despite most local authorities choosing to increase council tax, a combination of falling income and rising costs meant many were also forced to make savings or dig into their general reserves to balance their budgets.
Across the UK, local authorities planned to make at least £1.7bn worth of savings in 2021-22 while also using more than £500m worth of reserves.
Sheffield Council’s £21 million planned savings for 2021/22 – which work out at £35.91 per person – were the 19th highest out of 166 local authorities across the UK for which figures were available.
As a proportion of the net budget, this worked out at 5.74 per cent, which was the 35th highest percentage in the UK.
But Sheffield Council opted not to use any of its general reserves, unlike many councils, including Manchester City Council, which planned to use £57.6m – the largest total in the UK and nearly 10 per cent of its yearly net budget.
Further council tax rises and savings may be necessary in coming years, with Sheffield Council predicting a £23.9m cumulative shortfall for 2023/24, which is 6.5 per cent of its net budget.
Dame Meg Hillier MP chairs of the Public Accounts Committee, which examines the value for money of Government projects, programmes and service delivery.
She said: “The double hit of the pandemic - sudden loss of revenues from commercial investments, even ones like the airports in Luton and Manchester which were not considered risky pre-Covid, coupled with sudden extra demand and cost for those services has squeezed council budgets.
“After a decade of cuts councils are now planning to cut services and increase taxes to fill the hole. If a council is facing financial failure MHCLG steps in but there remains a long term cost to local people as borrowing needs to be repaid over many years.”
A Government spokesperson said it had allocated more than £12bn directly to councils since the start of the pandemic and English councils’ core spending power had increased from £49 billion to £51.3 billion between 2020 and 2022.