Rutland County Council’s is proposing a council tax rise of 4.99 percent for the 2018/19 financial year,
The suggestion has been made as part of the council’s draft annual budget for the 2018/19 financial year, which has been put forward by its Cabinet.
The council says the rise will offset a £1.5million cut in government funding and help meet growing demand for important services, like providing care for adults and children.
People living in Rutland now have an opportunity to share their views on the budget, which will be considered at the full council meeting next month, with local residents asked to give feedback on key proposals as part of a public consultation.
The 4.99 per cent figure includes a 2 per cent precept specifically to help fund social care in Rutland – services that look after people who need additional support due to illness, disability, old age or hardship.
Public consultation on the draft budget, which can be read in full on the Council’s website, is now ongoing and will run until Wednesday, February 7. Information will also go on display at the Council’s Catmose offices in Oakham and at local libraries.
Rutland County Council’s acting leader, Coun Oliver Hemsley (Con), said: “Proposing an increase in council tax at a time when people’s own budgets are stretched is not something we’ve done lightly. We would not be doing it all if it wasn’t for the financial climate in which councils are having to operate.
“Like the vast majority of councils, we are facing huge pressures on our budget this year due to continued funding cuts by central government and even greater demand for some of our most important services.
“Rutland already receives far less government money per head than the majority of other local councils and will have to do without a further £1.5 million government funding this year, on top of the cuts we’ve experienced in previous years.
“Government is fully aware of the impact this is having on councils like ours and expects us to fund local services through council tax, instead. This is why the government is now allowing councils to increase basic council tax by 3 per cent, so that we can raise extra money and make up for the shortfall. Increasing council tax in Rutland by 4.99 per cent would raise an additional £1.6million . This would go some way to closing the loss of Government funding but means the council will still need to use some of its reserves to meet the extra cost of services”.
The council’s draft budget includes savings of around £1.3 million for 2018/19 which, if approved, will mean it has reduced its costs by a total of more than £9million over the past six years.
However, the 2018/19 budget also contains an additional £1 million of new service pressures. This includes almost £200k to fund additional care packages for children with disabilities, £320k for Fostering, Adoption and Care Leaver services and an extra £90k to provide specialist transport for people with special educational needs.
Coun Hemsley added: “The financial climate remains challenging for all local authorities and Rutland is no exception. The Council has lost £1.5million of Government funding this year and inflation is at its highest rate for some time, increasing costs across every single one of our services. We are also experiencing unprecedented pressures in areas like fostering and adoption. In children’s services alone we have doubled our spending on Children Looked After since 2011/12 to ensure children and young people in Rutland are kept safe.
“The financial position beyond 2018/19 remains uncertain. Costs are going up as funding is coming down and if nothing changes we will face a funding gap of £1.4million by 2022/23. We are working extremely hard to balance the books while doing all we can to protect frontline services. Many councils have been forced into making significant cuts to services to reduce their costs but we want to close the gap in a measured way. Because we are already a low-cost Council and spend less per household than most other authorities who deliver the same services, this means using funds set aside to balance the budget in the short term. However, we need to be realistic and cannot sustain this approach over time.
“I hope that people can take time to read the information that has been prepared around the draft budget and give us their considered feedback on the proposals, all of which helps Councillors when it comes to making a final decision.”
The outcome of the budget consultation will be reported to Cabinet on February 20, with Council due to make final decisions on the budget on February 26 2018.
Further information about the Council’s draft budget for 2018/19, including details of how to share your views, can be found at: www.rutland.gov.uk/budget