COUNCIL APPROVES MAXIMUM TAX HIKE
‘Government is effectively taking away our own local council resources’
COUNCIL tax is set to go up another 5.99% this year, as Buckinghamshire County Council (BCC) cabinet members approved the maximum council tax rise.
Speaking on Monday (February 12), BCC leader, Councillor Martin Tett, said he took “absolutely no pleasure” in proposing the hike and added that the council’s “finances do not allow us to do anything other than that.”
It was confirmed that 3% of the increase will go towards the county’s adult social care services – a budget under “intense pressure” and has a forecast overspend of £4.4 billion, said Cllr Tett.
He said: “We are now in the 10th year since we had the economic crash in 2008. We have had a period of austerity for central and local government since 2010.
“Times remain very tough, frankly for local government. We are facing renewed pressure far beyond what I think we originally budgeted for back in February last year, particularly in adults’s and children’s services.
“Life is very tough for councils such as ourselves to manage demand-led services... Adult social care isn’t just the elderly, there is also a lot of adults in all aspects of life who are vulnerable.
“These pressures are very intense, expensive and in some aspects, out of our control but we have to provide the best we can for them.”
Cllr Tett described the considerable reduction in government funding which has now diminished to “nothing”.
He said: “We are one of the first councils in the country to lose all of our revenue support grant. Ourselves and Dorset will from next year not receive any revenue support grant... this is the money we get from central government towards the provision of local services.
“We’ll receive no money whatsoev- er from central government. It’s a really though challenge, not many years ago it was something like £60 million, now it’s nothing.”
Cllr Tett explained that BCC is now in “negatives” and argued the government “is effectively taking away our own local council resources.
“It is going to send councils such as ourselves, possibly, over a cliff edge. I desperately hope central government is listening.”
He continued: “It is important for
residents to understand that I take absolutely no pleasure whatsoever in increasing council tax.
“What I am very well aware of is the acute pressure on us as a local council... these are national pressures.
“Anyone who follows the BBC will know that a neighbouring council of ours, Northamptonshire is virtually, I will avoid using the term bankrupt...
“I know that talking to its leader, adult social care and children’s services are very similar to us.”
Cllr Tett, concluded: “For 2018/2019, we are very reluctantly proposing an increase in council tax of 5.99% and I really wish that wasn’t the case but our finances do not allow us to do anything other than that.”
Cllr Paul Irwin, added: “We all think about when in our lives we will become elderly and it is so important... reluctantly I think there is no choice.
The proposed council tax increase, which equates to an additional £12 a year will recommended for approval by full council on Thursday, February 22.