Coun­cil tax rise is on the cards

Accrington Observer - - YOUR VIEWS - Jon.macpher­son@men-news.co.uk @JonMacMEN

JON MACPHER­SON

COUN­CIL taxes look to set to rise again to help plug a £4.6 mil­lion fund­ing black hole - with govern­ment fund­ing set to dis­ap­pear al­to­gether in three years.

Hyn­d­burn coun­cil bosses say they need to save that amount over the next three years - an ‘ex­ceed­ingly chal­leng­ing’ tar­get - and the fig­ure could jump by a fur­ther £1.2 mil­lion de­pend­ing on in­fla­tion­ary pres­sures on salaries and other bud­get con­straints.

Fi­nance bosses said they will need to slash their bud­get by 16 per cent for 2018/19. Hyn­d­burn re­ceived £7.1 mil­lion from the govern­ment in 2010/11, but by 2020/21 the author­ity will not re­ceive any govern­ment sup­port grant at all.

Coun­cil bud­get doc­u­ments said coun­cil tax rises may be needed to help bal­ance the books and that wage in­creases would ‘add to the over­all pres­sures to make sav­ings and may lead to re­dun­dan­cies’.

Coun­cil leader Miles Parkin­son said they are ‘very ex­ceed­ingly chal­leng­ing tar­gets, but they are not off-putting’.

He told a re­cent cab­i­net meet­ing: “There are chal­lenges. The fig­ures are large. By 2020/21 the to­tal lo­cal govern­ment grant will cease and that’s a loss of £7 mil­lion and not tak­ing into ac­count in­fla­tion­ary pres­sures and wage growth.

“There will have to be re­struc­tures and sav­ings and work­ing with char­ity or­gan­i­sa­tions, community groups and oth­ers who wish to come on board to help de­liver the amount of sav­ings the coun­cil re­quire. I’m hope­ful that we can meet those chal­lenges.

“It’s im­por­tant over the three-year pe­riod that we see our in­dus­trial es­tates de­liver more jobs and more units.”

Tory group leader Tony Dob­son said it needed “out of the box think­ing”.

He added: “Although at the mo­ment it is chal­leng­ing and I don’t think we’ve ever hid­den that fact, if we can fo­cus on the fu­ture and get the prob­lems of to­day re­solved then we will be in a good place.”

Last year, Hyn­d­burn coun­cil in­sti­gated its first coun­cil tax ‘pre­cept’ rise since 2009, of 2.2 per cent.

Other pre­cept rises - in­clud­ing a sec­ond con­sec­u­tive 3.99 per cent rise by Lan­cashire County Coun­cil - com­bined to hike Hyn­d­burn tax­pay­ers’ over­all bills by at least £3 a month.

The coun­cil ex­pects to raise £4.5 mil­lion in coun­cil tax next year and £3.6 mil­lion in busi­ness rates, which could rise by a fur­ther £330,000 by 2020/21.

A ta­ble show­ing the re­duc­tion in govern­ment fund­ing to Hyn­d­burn Coun­cil.

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