Proposed council tax rise “a last resort”
A council tax rise – only the second in the last six years – is expected to be agreed by North Somerset Council at its budget-setting meeting next week (Tuesday 16 February).
The proposed rise of 3.74% is made up of:
- a Government levy of 1.99% which will raise £1.7m to help meet the growth and increasing costs of adult social care
- a 1.75% increase which will raise £1.5m towards meeting the increasing demand and cost of frontline council services.
It means the average Band D council tax bill for council services in the coming year will be £1,208.40 – an increase of less than £1 a week on this year’s bill.
The proposal to increase council tax follows a worse than expected provisional financial settlement from the Government which saw a 30% cut in the revenue support grant and changes to the new homes bonus scheme, resulting in the council receiving £8.2m less than this year.
In a significant policy change the Government also stopped its council tax freeze grant and said it expected all councils to increase council tax by 3.75% in each of the next four years.
In the final settlement received this week the Government announced a one-off transitional grant spread over the next two years which will see North Somerset receive £953,000 next year and £930,000 in 2017/18. However, the settlement also showed a greater reduction in funding in the following two years – 2018/19 and 2019/20.
“While this transitional grant is welcome and will be used to soften the impact of more funding cuts over the next four years, it is frustrating that the Government continues to move the goalposts just days before we are due to set our budget” said Council Leader Cllr Nigel Ashton.
“Having to put up council tax in order to achieve a balanced budget is very much a last resort, but it is a road we have been forced down.
“Despite our prudent financial planning, we are having to make further savings of more than £8.5m in 2016/17, on top of the £55m we have already saved in recent years.
“We will continue to protect frontline services as much as possible. Our approach all along has been on redesigning services so that they can be delivered more cost-effectively rather than simply cutting them.
“In addition, we will continue to take a prominent role in supporting economic growth in the district and push forward with our ambitious regeneration plans for Weston town centre. Helping to bring forward high-quality development and create jobs remains a key priority for the council.”