Council Tax set to be hiked two per cent by Plymouth City Council
PLYMOUTH will have to save nearly £18million and raise council tax by 2per cent to balance the council’s books, says city finance chief Cllr Mark Lowry.
Cllr Lowry told the city’s Cabinet yesterday that a 7.4 per cent cut in Government funding, combined with rising costs was forcing him to increase council tax by an average of 38 pence a week.
The latest funding cuts imposed by the Government mean Plymouth’s budget has been reduced by 30 per cent over four years, the equivalent of £300 from every household in the city.
Last year the Department for Communities and Local Government announced that it was cutting the rate support grant to Plymouth by 1.9per cent.
By an analysis by city finance experts had shown that it was actually 7.4per cent, he said.
The council would have to deliver £17.8 million savings as well as increase council tax by 2per cent to balance its books.
Cllr Lowry, the Cabinet member for finance, said: “The scale of the cuts being imposed by the Government is nothing short of irresponsible and is having a deep impact on local services, not just in Plymouth but across the country.
“We will just be able to maintain a full set of public services this year but they will be restricted.
“The Government is blatantly attempting to push the blame for its cuts on to local government but is not being upfront about the scale of them.
“We were told that our reduction in Plymouth was 1.9 per cent but when you look at the cold hard facts, it is 7.4 per cent, which is equivalent to a £70 cut for every Plymouth household.”
Cllr Lowry said the Government had made its settlement grant look better than it was by adding in grants that had never before been included.
Among these is the New Homes Bonus, a completely new grant.
The current year’s grant was £105million, but this has been cut to £97million, which includes a number of elements like the Early Intervention Grant and NHS funding, Cllr Lowry said.
“We are confident that we have robust plans in place to address these extremely difficult issues and due to sound financial management we have been able to limit the damage and protect services for the vulnerable in our community.”
The Cabinet agreed a £212 million revenue budget for delivering more than 300 services ranging from refuse collection to caring for vulnerable children.
The budget is due to be approved by the full city council on February 25.
A spokesman said: “The budget acknowledges the high value that residents place on some services, such as weekly bin collections, recycling, road repairs, libraries and leisure facilities, as well as services that focus on creating jobs and housing.
“Like all areas of the Council these services will need to deliver tough efficiency savings, but will not be stopped or shut.”
The proposed council tax increase would mean Plymouth households would on average pay 38 pence more a week for council services.
It comes on the back of another two per cent hike in Council Tax decided by Devon and Cornwall police commissioner Tony Hogg.