Council tax to rise as central government cuts hit budgets

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ADUR District Council is set to raise council tax by nearly two per cent after four years of freezes and one reduction.

Disappearing financial support from central government over the next two years has hit council coffers, resulting in the 1.99 per cent rise agreed by cabinet members on Monday.

Together with planned rises in county council and police precepts, the overall annual bill for a Band D property will rise by around 3.5 per cent.

Leader Neil Parkin said: “It’s a shame after four years freezing, one year reducing but we haven’t at any point had any leeway at all – the Government have made quite clear their stance on it.

“They are cutting our money so we have to put it up, basically.

“For Band D, it will be 10p per week.”

A report to councillors, prepared by chief financial officer Sarah Gobey, highlighted the ‘difficult settlement’ announced by the Government.

The council’s support grant – due to disappear by 2018 – this year made up nearly 15 per cent of the authority’s annual budget.

With a one per cent rise in council tax raising £56,000 for the council, cabinet members were warned that continued freezes would require further savings of £586,000 by 2020/21.

The increase will see Adur residents with Band C properties – the district average – pay an extra £4.83 annually to the council.

The annual consultation saw 63 per cent of residents who responded express a preference for a rise in order to protect services.

More than £1 million of savings have been identified in the current financial year.

Mr Parkin said residents would still benefit from weekly bin collections, unlike other authorities which had them every three weeks.

But he warned that funding cuts from partner authorities would not be plugged.

He said: “I just wanted to reiterate, in case anybody’s in any doubt. We don’t fund gaps. They take the money away, it goes. I’m not plugging any gaps.

“You’ve only got to look at our budgets. We’re in a big enough mess without picking up other tabs. If they withdraw funding, it will be whoever that partner is that takes the blame.”

Cabinet member for resources and deputy leader, Angus Dunn, assured cabinet members the council was not ‘in a mess’ and praised officers.

He said: “We are not actually in a mess. We our finding our way out of it. Miss Gobey and her team have got everything perfectly under control.”

The cabinet passed the rise unanimously.