HOUSEHOLDS in Warwickshire face hefty hikes in their council tax bills.
Warwickshire County Council (WCC) – which accounts for some 80 per cent of the total bill – is to demand an average of around £50 extra per household in the coming year after agreeing a four per cent rise – which includes a two per cent adult social care levy.
It will be the first rise in bills in three years and follows a cut in Warwickshire’s revenue support grant from central government.
Warwickshire Police, which accounts for one tenth of the total, has also agreed a 1.99 per cent rise, while district and borough councils in the county are also expected to agree an increase to their respective one tenth shares of the final bill.
Overall council tax payers face around a 3.5 per cent rise in their annual bill – about £52 across the year for an average Band D household.
The Conservative controlled council needs to save £16million in the next financial year as part of its four-year plan to save £66.4million.
The agreed budget includes the following cuts:
- £585,000 cuts to child social care and safeguarding, ‘by reducing the numbers of looked-after children by ensuring that children receive the right help at the right time’
- £214,000 cuts to road safety education
- £178,000 cuts as part of a review into ‘alternative delivery models to enable country parks to become self-financing’, which could lead to a rise in parking charges
- £173,000 ‘large service reductions in some heritage and culture services and a focus on increasing volunteering and commerical viability’.
The Labour group said residents would be paying more tax for fewer services, and slammed the government for cutting its revenue support grant funding to WCC by a third – around £12million – next year.
Coun Maggie O’Rourke said: “This will have a huge and immediate effect on the people of Warwickshire.
“There will be a further two per cent tax to pay for adult social care, but this ‘levy’ will in no way address the crisis faced in adult social care.”
“If you don’t levy enough tax centrally, there is no chance of providing essential services in our communities.”
And the Liberal Democrats were of the same mind.
Liberal Democrat group leader Coun Jerry Roodhouse said: “This Conservative budget means only one thing for the people of Warwickshire – more taxes for fewer services.”
Conservative MP for Rugby Mark Pawsey defended central government’s cut to the revenue support grant.
He said: “We need to continue to reduce the deficit and every part of the public sector must play its part. This includes local government which accounts for a quarter of public spending.
“The settlement for 2016/17 moves resources away from central government and into the hands of local councils which can target their spending to the needs of their areas. Councils will be able to spend locally what they raise locally.”