County Hall proposes 1.99 per cent council tax rise

Lancashire County Council, 'County Hall
Lancashire County Council, 'County Hall
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Lancashire County Council is proposing a 1.99 per cent increase in its share of the council tax.

The Labour-led authority announced the beginning of a consultation on proposals for its budget for 2014/15 at a cabinet meeting yesterday.

Deputy leader County Coun David Borrow said the increase in council tax would generate £7.3m towards county coffers, and help plug a £16.3m savings gap next year.

Proposals for savings have been presented to the last three cabinet meetings, identifying £133m of the required £300m the council needs to find over the next four years.

The Government has set a two per cent cap for council tax and any increase above this level is meant to trigger a local referendum. It has offered local authorities money in order for them to freeze their bills.

Conservative group leader County Coun Geoff Driver said he didn’t think it would “surprise anyone” that the Labour group were suggesting a council tax increase up to the two per cent limit, and asked how much money they were set to forgo in a freeze grant.

Council officers said this would have been £4.2m.

Speaking after the meeting, council leader Jennifer Mein said: “The council is under unprecedented financial pressure because the Government, which provides the bulk of our funding, is going to make huge cuts to the council’s budget for another four years, on top of the three years it has already done so. This has a direct impact on the services we can provide to local communities.

“In proposing this 1.99 per cent increase, we’re actually asking people to pay slightly less council tax than they were paying two years ago, but the extra funds would make a real difference to local services.

“It means 41.5p per week more for a band D property, but would bring in an extra £7.3m a year for the council, which could pay for 180 children’s social workers, or repair nearly 300,000 potholes. It will certainly go some way to close the £300m funding gap the council faces.”

“We realise that times are tough for most people in Lancashire but hope council tax payers will understand why we are proposing this and that it really will help to protect local services.”