Surrey County Council has voted to bring in a 4.99% rise in council tax bills from April.
Councillors voted 43 to 31 to approve the £1 billion budget, that will result in a £77 increase for a Band D property in Cranleigh.
The increase will mean a Band D property pays total council tax of £1,626 a year from April.
The confirmed rise in council tax bills comes despite a recommendation from auditors Grant Thornton that Surrey County Council use some of its £150 million of cash reserves to soften the blow of rising living expenses.
Many opposition councillors supported a Green Party amendment to use £26 million of reserves to reduce the council tax increase.
Council leader Cllr Tim Oliver said:
Our reserves are not excessive, on any view. It is something that we need to keep a careful eye on.
I just don’t think that [the amendment] is acceptable or sensible and indeed at some level is bordering on the irresponsible.
Cllr Will Forster, the Liberal Democrat group leader, said:
Around one in four Surrey households will not be eligible for the government’s proposed council tax rebate.
This council is making the cost of living crisis so much worse.
Forster accused the majority Conservative group of making residents “pay twice” for social care reforms, through an increase in their council tax bills and National Insurance contributions from April.
According to Cllr Oliver, Surrey County Council has no choice but to increase council tax, with the average cost of supporting an older person in Surrey rising by 13% since the onset of the pandemic. He said:
We’re determined to do right by all generations. To provide dignity and a better quality of life.
A rise in the adult social care precept is unavoidable if we want to deliver this ambition.
We could shirk our responsibility, put our head in the sand and muddle along hoping for government money that will not come.
But we’re not going to that. We are going to stand up, roll up our sleeves and not only tackle those challenges – we’re going to make the best of them.
We’re going to make Surrey a better place. And we’re going to make sure no one is left behind.
Surrey County Council is charging £1,084.26 for a property in valuation band A from April 2022.
Band B properties will pay £1,264.97, rising to £1,445.68 for a Band C property.
The total council tax is £1,626.39 for a Band D property in Surrey, £1,987.81 for Band E, £2,349.23 for Band F, £2,710.65 for Band G, and £3,252.78 for Band H.
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