THE government should be footing the bill for Worcestershire's council tax increase not residents, the county's Labour councillors have said.

Worcestershire County Council approved a two and half per cent increase at a full meeting on Thursday (February 18) but the authority's Labour group had called for the rise to be funded by the government rather than county taxpayers.

The planned rise would see tax bills increase by around £33 more for the average band D household for the county council's services notwithstanding increases by district councils, West Mercia Police and Herefordshire and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service.

Mr Lunn said: “So many people have struggled to cope with three lockdowns, people have been furloughed or lost their jobs, to impose additional costs on people would be in effect a 'Covid tax'.

“People are struggling to cope, their bills for heating, food and increased internet use are all going up. We are deeply concerned about many people’s ability to pay, incomes are being cut and bills are rising, which is creating a perfect storm of debt.

“The working poor, those on low incomes and people running small businesses, simply cannot afford higher and increased council tax bills.

“A national crisis should be solved nationally, not by passing the costs onto the council taxpayers of Worcestershire.”

Labour's proposed amendment was rejected by the county council with the Conservative administration particularly offended by the suggestion.

Cllr Marcus Hart, cabinet member for education, said it was "astonishing" that Labour had not put forward a formal budget amendment and called the proposal "fanciful."

"In a budget of £355 million, is this the best that they can come up with?' he said.

"We have throughout the years and will continue to do so, lobbied the government for fairer funding overall."