COUNCIL tax in Bolton is set to rise by almost five per cent, it has been confirmed.

Labour councillors today revealed their final proposals to increase the charge by 4.99 per cent, ahead of a vote at a full meeting of Bolton Council later this month.

A two per cent portion of the increase will be used to pay for adult social care — a lower percentage than expected, after the town hall discovered that it will be awarded a one-off payment of £900,000 towards social care costs.

However, the council's ruling Labour group has decided to introduce a higher than expected rise in the general levy — the maximum 2.99 per cent rather than 1.99 per cent — in order to pump £1 million extra into children's services provision.

Town hall bosses have reported that they are facing a £4 million deficit in its budget for supporting looked-after children, which is currently being funded from council reserves.

They also revealed that savings of around £2 million in waste and transport contracts will be used to fund a two per cent pay rise for council staff.

After adding in further precept rises to pay for policing, the fire service, and Andy Burnham's mayoral office, residents in Band A properties will pay an extra £60.06 next year.

Conservative opponents said it was 'not reasonable or justifiable' to raise council tax.

Labour's proposals — which will be voted on at the meeting on February 21 — come amid a continuing effort to cut more than £12.5 million from the town hall budget by 2019.

Council leader Linda Thomas announced at a cabinet meeting yesterday that the council is also planning to put £100,000 towards tackling anti-social behaviour and setting up Home Watch schemes, in response to growing crime concerns across the borough.

She said: “These aren’t vanity projects.

“We are very conscious about burglaries going on across the borough at the moment and residents being asked to go to crime meetings.

“We have 2,000 fewer police officers on the beat since 2010.

“This money is our way of making contributions to the communities that are really trying to help themselves.

“It is just sad that the Government doesn’t feel able to fund adult social care and children’s services from a central resource.

“What we are having to do now is go out and ask our Bolton taxpayers to pick up the bill.”

Cllr Thomas also announced Labour's intention to provide £300,000 for highways maintenance — involving the purchase of new equipment and funding of a ‘rapid response’ pothole team — and £100,000 to continue school breakfast club provision.

The proposals also include £200,000 towards the continuation of an LED street lighting scheme and £300,000 for the council's waste behavioural change programme.

Bolton Conservatives leader Cllr David Greenhalgh, whose party will present its own budget proposals at the full council meeting, said that the amount of money coming into the council was at ‘unprecedented’ levels.

He added: “To go back to residents at this time and ask for another £2 million or £3 million when the spending of this council is at an all-time high is unjustifiable.

“I am pleased to see that money for anti-social behaviour and Home Watch is in there, as well as highways.

“Our view is that what people expect in this town is that they live in a clean and safe environment and that the roads they walk and drive on every day are in a fit state.

“Those are basic priorities that people expect and I am pleased that they are mentioned. We may look at ways to fund them differently, but I am pleased that they are acknowledged.”

Cllr Thomas hit back at his remarks, saying: “The bread and butter of this council is educate our children, adult social care, and looked-after children. I do appreciate that the public want clean roads, but that is a very small pot of money.

“What would you say to a child living in an abusive home? That they have to stay there for another two weeks because the roads need sweeping?”

Tory councillor Martyn Cox said: “We are sat on £140 million of reserves. Now you are saying to people that we need another £2 million off them. They won’t buy it.”

Council finance chiefs estimate that by March the council’s reserves will be down to £141 million, from £174 million last year, however only £37 million is available to be used.

Town hall chief executive Tony Oakman said that the council was 'careful and considered' in its use of reserves and had avoided being in the same situation as Northamptonshire County Council, which only has reserves to meet half of its budget overspend.

Bolton UKIP leader Cllr Sean Hornby said: “Nobody is happy with a council tax rise as high as it is, but we are in very difficult times.

“We have seen cuts year on year since 2010 when there was a change of Government.

“Policing in this borough and across the board is stretched to the limit.

“The days are gone when there were police on the street and I do welcome the anti-social behaviour money that the council is putting in.

“The council’s priorities are difficult, however I think with regard to adult social care that is a priority for us and we also have a good record in the borough on looked-after children.

“The reason for that is that we spend what we have to spend and if we didn’t then we could be in a different place like Rotherham or Sheffield."

The council tax rise will amount to an extra £70.70 for Band B properties, £80.07 for Band C, £90.08 for Band D, £110.09 for Band E, £130.12 for Band F, £150.14 for Band G, and £180.16 for Band H.