Herefordshire leaders have been accused of being 'callous and lazy' ahead of a key meeting setting the county’s taxing and spending for the coming year.

David Stephenson of Ledbury submitted a question to cabinet member for finance Coun Pete Stoddart asking: “How can Herefordshire Council justify the proposition of yet another 4.99 per cent council tax increase, at a time when many hard-working families are already struggling?”

He said that “continuously passing on shortfalls in funding to residents via maximum council tax increases is callous, unfair, and most importantly, unsustainable”, and accused the council of “laziness or downright incompetence”.


Coun Stoddart responded that the rise would enable the council to achieve a balanced budget for the coming financial year, “despite significant financial challenges linked to rising inflation and unprecedented increases in demand for social care”.

As well as the proposed council tax increase, the maximum a local authority can impose without a referendum, the council plans £19.5 million in savings and efficiencies, “to balance the budget and secure the delivery of key services”, Coun Stoddart added.


Meanwhile a council scheme allows 11,000 hard-up households to “pay no council tax at all, regardless of their council tax banding”, while the council plans “additional sources of income generation and transformation activity to further limit the pressure on local tax raising”, he said.

This afternoon’s cabinet meeting will finalise plans for revenue and capital spending in the year from April, but these will still have to be passed by a full meeting of councillors next month.

The cabinet is also expected to back continuing the 100-per-cent council tax reduction scheme for another year.