Rise in Council Tax to Pay for Migrant Crisis
By John Chapman
The Express (U.K.), February 19, 2010
The cost of coping with asylum seekers has forced an 'immigration frontline' area to drive up council taxes, it emerged yesterday.
Residents will see their council bills increase by 2.1 per cent after their local authority failed to convince the Government to hand over more than 7million which the council says it is owed for meeting asylum seekers needs.
Kents ferry port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel terminal in Cheriton, near Folkestone, have long been the target of immigrant attempts to sneak into Britain leading to the countys 'immigration frontline' reputation.
Thousands of immigrants arrive in Kent each year and have to be housed, fed and provided with local health care, education and social services.
The tax increase will see average bills for the county rise to 1,047.82 for householders in Band D homes an increase of 22.39 on last year.
Kent County Council, which has an annual budget of around 2.2billion, had wanted to set a tax rise of just 1.86 per cent.
But only councillors said they could do so if the Government agreed to reimburse 7.3million in grants outstanding for looking after asylum seekers.
Despite intense negotiations, the Home Office has agreed to repay only about 3million and says it disputes the authoritys figures.
The Government claims it has increased grants by 3.2 per cent. But Kent County Council says that amounts to less than 8.5million well short of what it says is needed to meet a rising demand for key services.
The authority has pledged that if the money is eventually recouped in full, it will carefully consider cutting bills next year.