THOUSANDS of households across the Island could face massive council tax rises if government plans to cut grants to Isle of Wight Council are given the go-ahead.

In a worst case scenario, a person paying an average band D council tax of around £981 could see their bill rise by £366 a year - 37 per cent.

Currently, the Island's support grant from central government runs to nearly £48.5m. But government plans to slash ten per cent from the grant would leave Islanders to pick up the shortfall.

The planned cutbacks were condemned by Island MP Andrew Turner in Parliament last week.

Speaking on the future of the local government finance formula, Mr Turner described his "heartfelt wish that the government would recognise the essential costs of providing services on the Island."

Mr Turner cited a report on the additional costs of providing services to the Island by PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

He said: "It evaluates the costs solely attributable to separation by sea at £4.2m or almost four per cent of the council's budget.

"The reports terms of reference were to examine how the Isle of Wight Council's costs of service provision were affected by severance by sea and to analyse and quantify the additional costs incurred. When the minister sees the report, I am sure he will agree that it is robust and does not exaggerate.

"PricewaterhouseCoopers excluded many factors that result in higher costs but are not directly and wholly attributable to severance by sea.

"These include the cost of discretionary services; diseconomies of scale because it is a small authority, costs from demographic factors such as the high population of the elderly, the costs of maintain the economy and costs attributable to the physical geography such as coastal protection."

"Even that robust report and its robust definitions came up with additional costs of £580,000 a year for special education, £827,000 a year for fire services, £400,000 for waste management, £655,000 a year for construction and £1.2m a year for social service residential care."

Mr Turner went on to detail the costs of two services, special education and residential care and concluded by pointing to the recognition afforded to Islands in Scotland and Denmark.

Speaking after the debate he said: "I only had eight minutes to speak and ministers did not respond directly to my comments during the debate. I suspect they had no answers. I am still seeking a meeting with ministers to put our case to them in more detail but I am gravely concerned that a funding switch would leave the Island much worse off."