The decision to increase council tax for people in Lichfield and Burntwood has been branded “unfathomable”.
Lichfield District Council voted to put up its share of the bill for households by 2.78% this week.
But Cllr Dave Robertson told a meeting of the local authority that the timing of the rise could not have been worse for residents facing an already uncertain future.
“My major concern around council tax is that when and where this increase is going to land – just as the job retention scheme ends.
“I’m sure there are members of the council who are already aware of businesses who are laying people off as they have no certainty about what will happen.
“The fact that we are then going to drop a council tax increase is completely unfathomable.”Cllr Dave Robertson, Lichfield District Council
Cllr Robertson said the increase would see £322,000 taken out of the local economy at a time when money needed to be spent helping companies get back on their feet after the latest lockdown.
And he added those families already struggling would be hit hardest.
“Just as businesses are reopening, just as we’re getting to the point where restrictions can be relaxed, we’re going to suck £322,000 out of our economy.
“On top of that, the social cost cannot be ignored at a time when Lichfield Foodbank is saying that in 2020 they saw a year on year 110% increase in amount of people they fed. That’s in addition to two voluntary groups setting up that provide emergency food.
“It is very clear there is a lot of financial hardship in our district. To be compounding that at a time when the job market will be as difficult as it’s ever been doesn’t make sense.
“I cannot fathom how we are in a position where we want to put families and people under hardship at the same time as taking disposable income away from pockets that would be spent with local businesses.”Cllr Dave Robertson, Lichfield District Council
Cllr Rob Strachan, cabinet member responsible for finance, denied that he was taking money that could be spent with local businesses.
“Cllr Robertson spoke very emotively about sucking £322,000 out of the local economy.
“I see it more as taking 9p a week to make sure your bins get collected, your planning permission gets granted and your leisure centre stays open – and doing that in a really, really challenging environment while creating another tranche of support to try and keep the show on the road for residents, for businesses and fort this authority.
“That’s redistribution of funds. That’s a very socialist idea and to hear Cllr Robertson challenging me on that is really, really surprising.”Cllr Rob Strachan, Lichfield District Council