COUNCIL tax is set to rise at more than twice the rate of inflation next year.

On Tuesday afternoon the Department for Communities and Local Government announced a rule change which will allow councils to increase tax by as much as six per cent next year, not five as was previously the case.

The Argus understands Brighton and Hove City Council will take advantage of the change and increase tax by the maximum allowed – more than twice the current rate of inflation of 2.8 per cent.

In November, council leader Warren Morgan unveiled Labour’s preliminary proposals for next year’s budget, which will be debated and finalised at February’s council budget meeting.

He proposed to increase tax by the then-limit of five per cent and in order to balance the books had to make £13 million in savings.

Labour’s proposals identified the areas in which almost all the cuts would fall and insisted front-line service would be protected.

But the proposals left £1.2 million of cuts still to identify.

However if council tax were to go up six per cent not five per cent, the city would take in an additional £1.3 million, entirely covering the black hole in the preliminary budget plans.

Yesterday a council spokesman said: “The final decision about council tax for the financial year ahead will be voted on by all councillors at budget council on February 22, 2018.

“At the council’s policy, resources and growth committee last month, a budget gap of £1.2 million for 2018/19 was reported.

“We are reviewing ways for closing this gap amid the acknowledged pressures on local government.

“The increase to the council tax cap provides a further option that will now become part of the debate for councillors.”

If the minority Labour administration were to propose the larger increase it would need cross-party support to get the plan through the budget meeting.

The specifics of the budget are likely to be fiercely contested behind the scenes over the coming months, and in the February meeting itself.

But The Argus understands neither the Conservatives nor the Greens are likely to stand in the way of the greater increase.

The police precept will be allowed to rise as well, by the equivalent of £12 on a Band D home.

The council increases will amount to around £102 for Band D homeowners, up to £1,805.

The increase would follow a 4.99 per cent rise this year and 3.99 per cent in 2016.

As recently as 2015/16, a Band D home was only £1,567 so the increase will mean a hike of £238 in three years.