Cambridgeshire residents face maximum council tax rise from county council
Cambridgeshire County Council is expected to increase its share of household tax bills by almost five per cent.
The joint administration is proposing to increase the council tax for the coming year by 4.99%, the maximum amount allowed under government regulations, without holding a local referendum.
The supplement includes a 2% bonus for adult social care.
For Category D properties this means an additional £73 per year, although more than half (64%) of the county live in houses rated Category C or below and would see increases of between £49 and £65 per year .
In total, this would raise £17.8m to set a legally balanced budget for 2023/4 and help offset the additional cost of demand for and inflation linked to the Council’s forecast for the coming year of social welfare costs to diminish adults.
Council leaders say the proposed budget, which passed by a majority in the county’s Strategy and Resources Committee on Thursday and will now be presented to all members at a full council meeting on February 7, “seeks to fill a potential funding gap for the coming year of £21.4m even after finding over £10m in additional savings or income”.
In a report reviewed by members, Stephen Moir, the council’s chief executive, and Tom Kelly, its service director for finance and procurement, confirmed that the government’s tentative agreement on local government funding in December had already assumed the council would Council tax would increase by the maximum allowable without a referendum.
Members discussed “growing concerns” caused by the Government’s decision to postpone its fair funding review by a further two years, leaving Cambridgeshire with a formula that fails to take into account recent population growth and, in some cases, funding based on population numbers supports that are higher than 20 years old.
Council leaders say the forthcoming budget includes plans to spend more than £15m in one-off funds from reserves over the next year, including: £1m to continue providing free school meal vouchers to eligible children; £1m for motorway projects, including rural road drainage; £1m investment in flood defenses; more than £1.3m in libraries and £380,000 in community services.
“We are a very low-income municipality in a growing area and we have been eagerly awaiting the government’s agreement in December,” confirmed Councilor Elisa Meschini, committee vice chair and council vice chair. “What we finally received was not what we needed and we were forced into some of the actions we are proposing today.”
Opposition leader Councilor Steve Count will announce his group’s alternative budget in an online briefing tomorrow (Tuesday).