Craven District Council set to approve fourth council tax freeze

Craven District Council's headquarters

Craven District Council's headquarters

First published in News

A council tax freeze for the fourth year running looks set to be approved by Craven District Council.

Despite a strong indication by the leader of the council that there would have to be an increase in this year’s precept, it looks likely to remain unchanged.

Last week, the council’s policy committee heard its financial head say the council was in a robust position and was well placed to cope with government budget cuts in 2015/16, widely expected to be the toughest yet.

Joanna Miller said the budget for the coming year would be £6.5 million and in addition, the council could put £1.2 million into reserves to make itself “more financially resilient”.

“The key thing is we have a balanced budget, and that is a really good news story for the council,” she said.

A council tax freeze is dependent on the council accepting central government’s freeze grant of £34,000.

Included in the budget is the passing on to parish and town councils of government grants totalling £77,000.

Spending on capital projects include £250,000 on Skipton Depot, Engine Shed Lane; £125,000 on a new biomass boiler for Skipton Town Hall and a further £220,000 on other essential work at the hall.

Some £49,000 is proposed for replacement software at Craven Pool and £439,000 on replacing council vehicles. Also planned is the conversion of redundant toilets at Ashfield Car Park, Settle, into a tourist information centre. The project will cost £80,000, spread over two years.

After the meeting, Coun Alan Sutcliffe (Cons), the council’s lead member for financial resilience, said more central government cuts to all local authorities were expected.

Craven’s Revenue Support Grant has already been reduced by more than 13 per cent.

“Anticipating this, early last financial year we embarked on a robust cost cutting exercise, which has produced a very creditable £405,000 of internal savings,” he said.

“Apart from the cut in funding, the budget setting exercise was not helped by the government’s last minute confirmation of essential data. Against this background, the management team have done well to come up with a balanced budget and no increase in council tax for the fourth year running.”

Although Craven District Council looks set to freeze its part of council tax, its precept makes up just ten per cent of the overall charge. North Yorkshire County Council has indicated a possible just under two per cent increase in its precept, the fire and rescue service has already approved a 1.99 per cent rise, the police are also looking at an increase, and parish and town councils could also make increases.

 

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