Rutland County Council to consider 2.99% council tax rise and plugging funding gap with £2.6m of reserves
Rutland County’s Council’s cabinet is considering a tax hike of 2.99 per cent.
The cabinet will meet virtually on Tuesday to discuss the draft budget for 2021/22 and the council says it has received “lower than expected” financial support from the Government, which it needs to balance against lower income and higer costs.
The Government allows the council to put tax up by 5 per cent but instead the council is considering an increase of 2.99 per cent and using £2.6m from its reserves to balance the budget.
The council will also need to reduce some services over the next year.
Deputy council leader and cabinet member for finance Gordon Brown (Con) said: “Rutland County Council is an efficient authority spending less per head on services compared to other similar unitary authorities, while at the same time being recognised as best in class for adult social services, in the top 25 authorities for recycling waste in England and with better maintained roads than our larger neighbouring
“The recommendation to cabinet will be to keep the increase in council tax just to a 2.99 per cent increase. This will still leave a deficit of over £2.6m, which will need to be addressed by reducing costs.
“This, in turn, will mean changes in the way we operate and some reductions in services over the next year.”
Rutland County Council is lobbying Government to increase the amount of money it receives.
Coun Brown said: “We do not feel that it is fair of Government to expect Rutland to increase council tax by 5 per cent. Our levels of tax are already amongst the highest in England and we are an efficient authority.
“We have made it clear to our local MP and Government that the expectation of large increases of council tax is not sustainable as it will make Rutland a less affordable place to live, especially for young families living and working in our community.
“Government continues to spend less on council services each year, while expecting taxpayers to fill this gap.
“It is not realistic, and we are backing the Local Government Association’s call for Government to add an extra £5bn to council funding nationally so we can continue to meet the needs of residents.
“We have also identified that there are only 19 unitary authorities in England which have council tax contributions in excess of 70 per cent of their spending power and also have a tariff on their business rate retention.
“We are therefore asking Government to remove this tariff to increase the amount of funds available to support the delivery of essential services.”
The Covid-19 pandemic has decreased the council’s income during 2020/21.
Some short-term extensions have had to be made, due to the pandemic, to contracts, such as the waste collection and grounds maintenance contracts.
The council must also fund a long-term programme to fell trees as they become affected by ash dieback, which has to be done to make sure roads are safe.
Papers and details of how to observe the cabinet meeting can be found on the Rutland County Council website: www.rutland.gov.uk/meetings.