Rutland County Council to freeze council tax for fourth year despite cuts

Rutland County Council offices in Oakham
Rutland County Council offices in Oakham

Residents in Rutland are set to have their council tax frozen for the fourth year running, even though the county council will have to make further budget cuts.

Rutland County Council is proposing to freeze council tax and will make cuts in backline services as it bids to save £925,300 in 2014/15.

Rutland County Council leader Roger Begy (Con)

Rutland County Council leader Roger Begy (Con)

The proposals were announced at a meeting of the cabinet on Tuesday, as members discussed the draft budget for next year.

The council’s budget for the year is £30,390,000.

Freezing council tax will result in a £208,000 Government grant. This sum would be the equivalent to a rise of one per cent.

The council’s reserves currently stand at about £8.5m and leader Coun Roger Begy (Con) said that while savings had to be made it was important to support people in tough times and not increase council tax while other funding sources were available.

He said: “We believe this is a positive move.

“We have to recognise times are hard and anything that contributes towards making life easier for people is the right way forward.

“While we have the reserves there and the central Government funding is available we want to make sure no-one is having to pay more.

“We don’t think we could justify an increase.”

Councillors will now consult on the draft budget for 2014/15, with a final decision to be made in February by the full council.

The council tax is made up of charges by the county council, the largest part, and precepts set by police, the fire service and town and parish councils.

The county council element of the current average band D tax bill is £1,430.51. The police and fire service precepts account for another £230. The town and parish precepts vary across the county from less than £1 to more than £50. In Oakham the average band D bill this year including all the elements was £1,715.42.

The draft budget highlights where potential savings can be made.

It was announced last week that the new highways maintenance contract with Lafarge Tarmac will save £220,000 a year, the largest saving in the plan. The deal has been signed for five years and will save the council some £1m over the contract period.

Small reductions of less than £10,000, in more than 60 areas, including the removal of budgets no longer required in publicity and materials, will save more than £175,000.

A review of the Home To School transport arrangements, for those with special educational needs, is being undertaken. Various issues are being considered including level of demand and route planning, and it is estimated that £50,000 can be saved.

Coun Begy said he was keen to assure people that the council would protect frontline services.

He said: “We are really focussing on backline services.

“We’ll have more shared services and slightly different ways of doing things to ensure we can deliver frontline services and other vital services to those who are vulnerable.

“I’m confident that our savings target will be met.”

To see details of Rutland County Council’s draft budget in full click here