Households in Preston are to see their council tax bill rise once more as the city council looks to plug a growing financial black hole.Advertisement
A two per cent rise is to discussed at the meeting of Preston City Council‘s full council on Thursday.
Reserves held by the city council are to be spent once more on retaining certain services as central government continues to reduce the grant given to the council.
Councillor Martyn Rawlinson, responsible for finance and resources, has written for Blog Preston outlining the scale of the challenge facing the council.
By March 2018 the council is to receive no direct funding from central government, compared to £8m-a-year as it does now.
Another 80 jobs are due to go at the Town Hall by 2020, and the report also includes the introduction of the £30-a-year tax on households with a brown bin for garden waste.
Council leader councillor Peter Rankin said: “We have worked hard to implement the first two years’ proposals and have reduced revenue expenditure in line with the savings targets, even achieving some savings ahead of target.
“At the same time we have made significant progress on a number of projects which are improving the city for residents, visitors and businesses alike. Preston continues to be a growing vibrant city.
“Looking ahead, a combination of increased costs, falling revenues and, above all, further drastic reductions in our central government grant means that the council continues to spend more than it receives in income.
“This is in spite of the fact the council has successfully delivered savings each year since 2010. Whilst council balances are being used to bridge this gap, at the current rate they will be exhausted by 2018/19. The position is clearly not viable for the longer term.
“Consequently we need to take action in this coming year to achieve a balanced budget for the period beyond 2017. We will also need to take account of the recently announced four year local government finance settlement and proposals to devolve 100 per cent of business rates to district authorities, including Preston.
“As yet it is unclear what these proposals will mean for our finances. We are planning to make further savings next year as set out in our original three year plan and we are continuing to plan for the years beyond 2016/17.”
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Homeowners in Preston have already seen a four per cent increase approved by Lancashire County Council in their share of the council tax bill. The additional two per cent increase above the two per cent threshold comes specially for social care services.
What do you think of the rise in council tax? Let us know your views on the council funding situation in the comments below