COUNCIL tax will rise by 2.99 per cent in Southampton next year, if civic chiefs give plans the green light.

Civic bosses say this increase, which equates to about £41.30 a year for Band D homes, will allow it to maintain “vital” services while battling slashed government grants – which are set to be reduced by 54 per cent over the next three to five years.

They add that council tax only covers 17 per cent of its total annual spend.

It comes as the council says it needs to save £15 million by 2021.

The authority’s new budget plan, which was released today, includes significant cuts, despite already saving £136.4 million over the past seven years.

The main areas to be hit include adult social care, with a proposed budget for 2019/20 of £48.91 million – £4.33 million less than this year’s £53.24 million budget.

A new charge is also to be introduced for blue badge holders who use council owned off-street car parks, which will bill them the same as other motorists.

Other cuts include the reduction of councillors expenses budget, which will save the council £35,000 per year.

Cllr Hammond said: “Local governments are currently being funded [as a share of GDP] at the same levels as 1948 and councils are now at a breaking point, like Northamptonshire and Somerset.

“We have prioritised maintaining the services that residents say are important to them, but to keep them at the same level as they are now means we will have to increase council tax.

“It is about striking the right balance.

“The key is trying to maintain the level of service that people expect, while balancing the books of the lessening grants from central government.”

However, the plans still need to be scrutinised and will have to be approved before they are implemented.

A 12-week consultation of the proposals will also take place, starting October 24.