Council tax bills look set to rise by around £1.10 per week as the Labour administration at Cheshire West and Chester Council (CWaC) prepares to set its first budget tomorrow (Thursday, February 25).
The local authority aims to tackle a £57.3m reduction in Government funding while protecting services most valued by Cheshire West residents.
CWaC is recommending a 3.99% council tax rise in 2016-17, comprising a 1.99% general increase and an additional 2% rise for adult social care. This would mean a standard Band D council tax rate of £1,326.11, a rise of £50.88 on the 2015-16 rate – or 97 pence per week.
Council, police and fire take their share
It follows decisions by Cheshire Police to raise its precept by 3.2% or about 10p per week and by Cheshire Fire Authority to increase its element by 1.99% or 2.7p a week meaning Cheshire West council taxpayers will face a total rise of about £1.10 per week or £57 per year. Other levies apply in areas covered by town and parish councils.
The full council at Winsford is expected to vote through an increase that will generate an additional £5,857,000, of which £2,935,000 will go towards easing the growing financial pressures in adult social care.
But with the Labour administration holding a nail biting overall majority of just one seat, party managers on both sides will be on edge at the slightest possibility that one of their councillors may not be in the chamber to vote.
Cllr David Armstrong, cabinet member for finance and legal, said: “The Government is substantially cutting the amount of money it allocates to Cheshire West and Chester Council over the next four years.
“The financial challenges facing the authority are more significant than they have ever been and it is important to take a longer term view to addressing this, rather than taking short-term decisions from one year to the next.
“The feedback from the comprehensive Let’s Talk consultation has been invaluable in gathering views and will also be used to inform the budget planning process in future years.”
Labour say the proposal is in line with more than 100 local authorities who have been allowed to increase council tax by up to four percent, providing the extra money is used for adult social care.
Shortfall has grown by £10.3m
A committee report reveals the budget shortfall facing the authority over the next four years has grown from £47,000,000 to £57,300,000.
This is the result of an additional £10.3m cuts imposed on CWaC in the Chancellor’s July and December settlements.
By 2020 the Revenue Support Grant – the biggest source of money for local government which is not ring-fenced – will be reduced to nil, alongside significant reductions to other central government grants.
In the report, Cllr Armstrong says the budget aims to achieve value for money while living within the council’s diminishing resources.