A LOCAL authority set to demand the maximum increase in council tax has highlighted how much more reliant it has become on funds from residents.

Ahead of councillors considering a proposed 2.99 per cent rise in council tax for next year, Darlington Borough Council has outlined how the proportion of its revenue from residents has doubled over the past decade.

The Labour-run authority has seen a real terms decrease in government funding of £45.7m since 2010/11, and this is expected to increase to £50m by 2022/23.

Over the same period, the proportion of the council’s revenue paid directly by Darlington residents will have leapt from 31 per cent to 62 per cent.

The authority’s leader, Councillor Stephen Harker said: “Residents just see that council tax has risen. If people understood how the balance of council funding has changed they might be more upset and outraged about what the Government has done.

“It could get worse if the Government makes cuts to grants in the next four-year period. Either way, it is a stark change.”

The proposed increase in council tax reflects leading members’ view that income from residents must increase to protect key services.

The proposed 2.99 per cent council tax rise, which is the maximum allowed before a referendum is triggered, would increase the authority’s revenue by £1.44m.

Cllr Harker said in addition, areas with low council tax bases such as Darlington – which has the second lowest council tax in the North East and where more than half the housing is rated in council tax bands A and B - were also being forced to raise their council tax demands by more.

He said austerity was far from over and due to declining Government funding and increased demand for services such as children’s and and adult social care, the council which is elected in May would have to make tough decisions on further service cutbacks.

Cllr Harker said: “Our ability to plug the gap left by falling Government funding is not the same as affluent areas.

“It is a stark choice between whether we cut services or expect more money from residents.

“We don’t want to do either and there is a limit to the amount of rises that people will tolerate.”