Harrow Council’s Labour administration accused the Government of “nationalising” council tax as it announced its latest draft budget.

The council’s plans for 2021/22 include a five per cent increase in council tax, as well as the need to plug a funding gap of £8.25 million, which it intends to do so through non-general fund reserves.

Cllr Adam Swersky, who is responsible for finance at Harrow Council, said it had been left with no choice but to increase council tax by so much to cover reduced government funding and increased demand.

He said council tax has effectively become a “national tax” with the Government shifting responsibility to local authorities to compensate for a lack of financial support.

Of the 4.99 per cent increase, three per cent will be ringfenced for social care, and Cllr Swersky said the Government needs to provide a “long-term solution” to financing this vital area of services.

In addition to next year’s proposed changes, the council is facing a shortfall of around £31 million across 2022/23 and 2023/24.

Cllr Swersky said the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic had brought “greater pressures than anyone could have anticipated” but was confident the council could continue to deliver on all key services.

“We’re in a pretty good position,” he said. “Some of our colleagues have had Section 114 notices, which effectively means they don’t have any more money.

“We don’t want to get anywhere near that. That’s why we’ve taken prudent decisions to make sure we have a budget that is sustainable for the future.”