A NEAR five per cent tax increase in Dudley will go through despite Labour councillors voting against, the leader of the council has said.

Councillor Patrick Harley predicted his party’s budget will be passed after opponents claimed the government was making residents pay for the Covid-19 crisis.

Dudley’s Labour councillors attacked the Tories’ financial plans saying the council leadership failed to stand up for the borough and demand more government funding.

Councillor Pete Lowe, Labour’s lead member for finance, said: “It shows how out of touch the Tories are in Dudley that during the most serious pandemic we have ever seen that their response is to raise council tax by nearly five per cent.

“They have absolutely failed the people of Dudley.

“Instead of demanding the government provide additional support they are instead demanding hard-pressed council taxpayers foot the bill. These bills will land on people’s doorsteps at the very time many are concerned about the future of their jobs or how to pay their bills.”

Labour has accused the Conservative government of going back on a promise made last year that it would fund councils to do ‘whatever it takes’. 

Councillor Judy Foster, Labour group deputy leader, added: “We have called time-after-time for a ‘Fair Deal for Dudley’.

“What is clear is that this council have done nothing and put their party loyalty over and above the interests of the community that they were elected to serve.”

Since the outbreak of the pandemic councils across the country have suffered as council tax and business rates fell and ticket sales from leisure and sports centres dried up.

Cllr Harley, leader of the council, said the Labour party was merely following Sir Keir Stammer's call for more cash for local government.

He said: “It’s staggering that the Labour Party should give this response to the budget. No one, even on the remotest desert island, could even begin to criticise the amount the government has provided throughout the pandemic. 

“It has been the most generous in the western world.”

He added: “In Dudley we need to see the [council tax] baseline increase to make sure services are protected and if we don’t in years to come we will suffer by making  draconian cuts.

“By doing what we are doing, we are protecting frontline services.”

He added the proposed budget would put an extra £30 million into adult and children’s social care over the next three years and claimed it outlined the most ambitious regeneration programme Dudley has ever seen.

Claiming Labour was being dishonest, he said: ”In one instance we have Cllr Lowe saying don’t increase council tax thereby reducing the amount of money coming in while his other hand is hanging out for more money to be spent on frontline services.

“You can’t have both.”

The budget will now go to a full meeting of the council for approval. Despite the Conservatives being in the minority Cllr Harley said he was confident that with the support of independents it would be passed. 

What the tax increase means for you?

A property in Band D will pay an additional £68.91.

On top of this will be added extra charges set by the police and fire services but which are collected by the local authority. 

The new proposed tax bands are:

A £967.01 

B £1,128.18 

C £1,289.35 

D £1,450.51 

E  £1,772.85 

F  £2,095.19 

G  £2,417.52 

H  £2,901.03