Rutland County Council approves 2.99% council tax increase and will use £2.4m from reserves to balance books
Rutland County Council members have approved a 2.99 per cent increase in its share of the council tax, and will use £2.4m of reserves to balance the budget.
The council tax paper was debated at length by council members at a meeting last night (Monday, February 22).
A proposed amendment to the paper was put forward for council tax to be increased by 3.99 per cent instead of 2.99 per cent. The amendment was unsuccessful with 16 members voting against, six voting for and three abstentions. Members’ overall view was that an increase of 3.99 per cent would unduly disadvantage residents and remove money from the economy at a time when the focus should be on rebuilding and recovering post-pandemic. The council tax rise of 1.99 per cent, plus the adult social care precept of 1 per cent, was agreed with 16 members in favour and nine abstentions.
The local government settlement, provided by the government, gave the council less core funding than in the previous year. To compensate for this, the government anticipated that many councils would raise tax by up to 5 per cent.
The tax increase is the smallest increase put forward in any of the past five years. To balance the budget, the council will use £2.4m of reserves to bridge its funding gap. This means that the average increase in council tax for a band D property in Rutland will be £1.02 per week.
Council leader Oliver Hemsley (Con) said: “This has been one of the most challenging budgets of recent years. Historically, we’ve often talked about the financial pressure on local councils and the need to make difficult decisions to balance the books. This is exactly what councillors were faced with on Monday night.
"Looking at a funding gap of more £2.4m over the next year, councillors have decided not to increase council tax by the maximum amount allowed by government. Instead, we will use our reserves to make up for the loss of government money. However, we will also need to make at least £1m of savings over the next 12 months.
“The government needs to understand that its current approach to funding local councils is unsustainable and simply passes costs on to local taxpayers. This isn’t fair on residents and could put local services at risk in the long term.”
Rutland County Council’s overall budget for 2021/22 will be £41.5m over the next 12 months to maintain services, from road maintenance and bin collections to library services, fostering and adoption, bus travel, school transport and care for older people.