Northamptonshire taxpayers being asked for five percent local tax rise for county council services

Theresa Grant and her colleagues from Trafford council have been putting together plans to get the council's budget to balance.
Theresa Grant and her colleagues from Trafford council have been putting together plans to get the council's budget to balance.

Northamptonshire council tax payers are going to be asked to stump up an extra five per cent on their council tax payments for county council services from April.

The Conservative-run authority, which is in the midst of a financial crisis, is the only one in the country to have been given the power by the Government to increase the local tax level without a referendum.

Council leader Matt Golby announcing a decision to raise council tax by five percent today.

Council leader Matt Golby announcing a decision to raise council tax by five percent today.

Leader Matt Golby has now decided to use the extra tax freedom which will bring in an additional £5.8m a year after discussing it with his fellow Conservative members this week.

A final decision will be voted on at the cabinet meeting next Wednesday (Feb 14).

The additional amount equals £1.13 a week for a band D resident, which is just under £60 for the year.

The authority says that it will cost the majority of Northamptonshire households who live in band A-C properties an extra 75p a week.

In a written statement Cll Golby said: “Of course I do not take any proposal to increase taxes lightly. However given that even after this increase we will remain one of the very lowest taxing counties in the country and given that it will mean we can invest or re-invest in areas people have told us are important, I believe it is the right thing to do.

“In addition to this, if we move towards new unitary councils the additional increase will mean that both new authorities will begin life with a far more sustainable income for services.

“In the current financial year at one point our challenge to deliver a balanced budget stood at £64.2m. We are now within touching distance of achieving this. The budget proposals published today will build on this new financial stability and set this organisation, and any future new ones, on a course of far greater financial sustainability.”

The additional £5.8m would go towards reinstating the winter gritting for next year to its former level, an extra £1.2m for children’s services and an additional £673,000 for adult social care placements.

The latest report shows that the projected overspend for the current financial year stands at 1.4m. This is an improvement of £9.8m on the previous month.

When asked at the press conference held today (Feb6) at One Angel Square the council was only able to say where £2m was coming from, which was through savings in adult care costs. Chief executive Theresa Grant was unable to account for the remaining £7.8m and chief finance officer Ian Duncan was not on hand to answer questions.

The monthly revenue report, detailing the answer, was only available to the media on request halfway through the meeting and then it later turned out to be not the final version.