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Budget cuts force North Yorkshire County Council to consider tax increase
8:00am Friday 20th December 2013 in News
A rise in council tax is being considered by North Yorkshire County Council.
The authority, which has kept council tax at the same level for four years, says that without an increase it will have to find savings of £2.3 million – on top of the £94 million it is currently saving up to March, 2015.
Council leader Coun John Weighell (Cons) said: “Naturally, we would prefer not to present the taxpayers of North Yorkshire with an increase in their bills. That is why, since the budget of February, 2011, we have frozen council tax, even though the financial consequences for the authority have been significant.”
In return for the tax freeze, the council has received a grant from central government equivalent to a one per cent rise and a similar offer is being made for the next two years.
But Coun Weighell said that the council had reached the point where accepting the offer presented it with a financial challenge it believed could be unacceptable.
“We are on track to save £94 million over the four years ending in March, 2015, and we estimate we already have to find a further £77 million over the next four years. This represents a cut in our spending power of more than a third in eight years,” he said.
“In the four years ending March, 2015, frontline services have been protected as much as possible, with just under two-thirds of our savings coming from non-frontline budgets.”
He added that the council was also seeing a significant rise in demand for its services, including those covering the most vulnerable.
“There has been a 75 per cent increase in child protection cases and, at the other end of the age range, more than a quarter of the adult population in North Yorkshire is over the age of 65. Every year, the population of older people increases, and with it the demand for the care and support which the council provides.”
A two per cent rise in the council tax would work out as £21 per year, or 41p per week for the average household.
Coun Weighell said: “While any increase is regrettable, it is my belief that such a relatively small rise in individual tax bills, following three years of freezes, would be reasonable.”
Before it makes its decision in April, the council will consider public feedback through councillors, direct to the council website and with consultation through the North Yorkshire Citizens’ Panel.
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