Preston Council officials are meeting this Thursday to make final decisions on budget plans for 2012/2013.Advertisement
3.5% council tax rise is among the major proposals made by the councillors in a meeting which took place earlier this month. This equals to an increase of £ 9 per annum, from £ 259 to £ 268 per Band D property.
In order to justify the tax increase, councillor Peter Rankin, Leader of Preston City Council said: “This is not a decision we have taken lightly but given the scale of the cuts we have faced, we believe it is the right decision for Preston.
“The cost to taxpayers would be just £9 a year or 17p a week for the average household in Preston but it would bring in over £360,000 a year extra of much needed revenue to help protect valuable public services in Preston.”
As a result of a settlement made by the Government in December 2010, Preston has experienced £3.5 m grant reduction in 2011/ 2012 which is going to rise to £5.5 m in 2012/2013.
“It has been very difficult to balance the budget. Preston is one of the hardest hit councils in the UK for the amount cut from its Government grant (down from £16m in 2010 to £12m next year)”, said Cllr Rankin.
Council officials also said that even though it’s quite hard to predict a particular outcome for next year’s budget, another reduction in funding is most likely to follow.
Members of Preston City Council have come up with series of strategies that are designed to deal with the challenging budget restraints.
Some of the strategies are:
Increasing the supply of affordable housing as well as bringing empty accommodations back into use
Promoting the Living Wage across Preston
Supporting co-operatives and social enterprises
Establishing a credit union that would bring more financial confidence and security to its members
Preston Council is also going to cut back on expenses by implementing more efficient car parking plans, bus shelter cleaning and shared services with Chorley and Lancaster.
According to a recently released council report “despite some price increases, Preston City Council fees and charges continue to compare favourably with similar local authorities”.
“Even with the council tax rise, we are proposing savings of £2.5m over the next five years through being more efficient with resources like systems and office buildings for example”, said Mr Ranking.
With Preston Guild 2012 coming soon, the Council is ready to create a sound funding up to £ 2m as the event is not only of huge economical, cultural and social importance but also represents sentimental bond among Preston community.
An electronic survey on the recent budget proposals was open to public input until 17 February and the results will be presented and taken into consideration in next Council’s meeting on the 23 February.