Council tax increase a step closer to reality

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Northamptonshire County Council’s proposals to 
increase council tax by nearly two per cent are a step closer to being ratified.

At a meeting at County Hall on Tuesday, the ruling cabinet voted to recommend the plan set out in December to be put to full council for approval.

The authority wants to increase its proportion of the council tax bill by 1.99 per cent in 2014-15, which it says will cost the average household 39p a week.

Faced with ever-reducing grants from central Government, the county council has to make cuts of a further £126.2 million over the next five years.

Since the budget was outlined in December, the authority says it has a “marginally better” final settlement, and an improved tax base figure, meaning it has seen an increase in funding of £5.2 million. It has also been able to save some money in other areas, meaning it has now scrapped a plan to charge people to use recycling centres, which it said would have saved £1 million over five years.

Members of the public who responded to the consultation on the budget said charging to use the sites, or closing them all together, would lead to an increase in fly-tipping.

Councillor Bill Parker (Con, Clover Hill), cabinet member for finance, said: “We have reduced the amount of money we need to reduce from contract savings, from £8.5 million to £6.5 million.

“We have also made the decision, which comes back to concerns from members of the public, to not charge for waste recycling. That has been taken out of the proposals.”

The planned budget attracted some criticism at the meeting.

Colin Bricher, from the Christian Alliance, said: “I think this is the fourth time I have challenged cabinet to take a 10 per cent cut to your allowance, and that is letting you off lightly.

“Raising council tax while losing Government funding is value neither for people nor money. If you borrowed the money, the interest would be less than the loss in grant.”

Opposition parties will also be presenting their budgets in the next week and a final decision will be taken by full council.