Council tax in Halton looks set to rise by the maximum of almost five per cent this year, with the council also revealing it has been handed less than expected in government grant money.

Halton Council said it will receive £1.3m less than it expected this year, partly due to the services grant - a pot of government cash which funds all council services - being cut nationally by 84 per cent from £484m to £77m. 

The council had already been facing a shortfall of £3.5m this year, which it had reduced from £9.6m. But the grant changes means that black hole has now grown to £4.8m.

But the government claims the situation is more complex having diverted money to other grants, and says that Halton's overall core spending power has actually increased. 

Halton has also revealed it aims to increase council tax by the maximum allowed again this year. Government regulations state council tax can only be hiked by three per cent without triggering a local referendum, with an additional two per cent rise being permitted to fund adult social care.

Halton has confirmed it will aim to increase council tax by this maximum amount of almost 4.99 per cent, but this will have to be ratified by a vote of Full Council.

Council leader Mike Wharton, said: “Halton’s increase in core spending power is 6.6 per cent compared to the national average of 6.5 per cent.

“However, given our current year forecast overspend of £8m-£9m and the remaining 2024/25 budget gap of £4.8m, the grant settlement hasn’t provided anything like sufficient funding to offset the cuts made by this government in previous years since 2010, and to meet the huge increases in demand for children’s and adult social care."

A government spokesman said it had reduced the services grant in order to fund increases to other grants, including what it called 'equalisation of the adult social care precept' to 'level the financial playing field' for councils.

He said that for Halton Council, this represented an increase in core spending power of up to £9.2 million - 6.6 per cent.

He added: "Councils are ultimately responsible for their own finances, but we remain ready to talk to any concerned about its financial position.

"We recognise they (councils) are facing challenges and that is why we have announced a £64 billion funding package to ensure they can continue making a difference, alongside our combined efforts to level up."