Executive councillors recommend lower council tax rise

Following government changes to council funding, in order to protect front-line services, Executive councillors have recommended a 3.95 per cent rise in council tax for 2016/17 that will be put to full Council for a final decision later this month.

Councillors have listened to residents’ feedback in a public consultation and will be seeking to average council tax rises to below 1.75% in addition to the 2% social care precept over the next four years.

Over 1,200 people responded to the consultation in which the council put forward a range of council tax and savings options after central Government announced a 36 per cent cut to its funding to the council as part of a shift towards local taxation. This will mean the council needs to make further savings of £43million over the coming four years, on top of the £90m it has already made.

The majority of respondents (58 per cent) favoured an increase of 2 per cent to support adult social care services. However, people were split on a general council tax increase with more favouring a 1.75 per cent increase rather than a 1.99 per cent rise. The combined 3.95 per cent increase will mean a weekly 99 pence increase in what an average household pays for council services.

Executive Councillor for Corporate Resources, Cllr Richard Wenham says: "We are really grateful to hundreds of people who have given us their views and we are taking very seriously the message they are giving us.

"The public seem to share our view that we must protect front-line services from cuts, particularly in caring for vulnerable people. In line with people’s feedback we are keeping our recommended council tax rise at the minimum level to support local services. Our ambition will be to limit the average increase to 1.75 per cent (excluding the Social Care Precept) going forward.”

Overall, the budget will see some £190million in public services from April including £68million on adult social care services, £36million on children’s services, £48million on community services such as roads and transport, refuse collections and leisure and £5million on supporting business.

Executive Councillors also recommended investing up to £278million on capital projects over the next four years from external and council funding. Major projects being proposed across Central Bedfordshire include £75.3million on new school places, £41.8million on highway schemes, £8.5million on the ongoing upgrade of all tidy tips including a new site at Thorn Turn, near Houghton Regis, £9.5million on providing disabled facilities grants, £4.6million on improving care home provision, £7.6million on rolling out superfast broadband to more homes and £4million to improve our market towns.

Both the revenue and capital budgets will be considered by the Council on 25 February which will confirm the final council tax rates taking into account additional charges by the Fire Authority, Police and Crime Commissioner and town and parish councils.

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