Plymouth Council Tax 'must rise' two per cent to help plug £18m shortfall
COUNCIL Tax bills will go up by two percent and £18million of cuts will have to be made 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 - or nearly £20 per year for each household.
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 7.4 per cent, he said. The council would have to deliver £17.8 million savings as well as increase council tax by two per cent to balance its books.
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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. 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.
The Department for Communities and Local Government was unable to provide a response last night.
PLYMOUTH CITY COUNCIL BRACED FOR A £1.4MILLION OVERSPEND
COUNCIL chiefs face a £1million budget black hole this year, Cabinet members have been warned.
Extra spending on adult social care is being blamed for Plymouth City Council's perilous position. In the autumn Cllr Mark Lowry, the Cabinet member for finance, set out a raft of tough measures to plug a gap in his revenue budget.
But yesterday he told Cabinet colleagues: "We are forecasting an overspend at the year-end of £1.4million against our budget of £203.8million.
"This is clearly not acceptable, despite reducing from the previous quarter's forecast of £2.2m and last month's £2.4m. The major area of overspend remains £3.371m across the People directorate.
"The main reasons are pressures in adult social care linked to demographic changes, increased demand for supported living and reduced income from a number of sources."