Tax ‘to freeze’ for fifth year running
COUNCIL chiefs are aiming to freeze council tax despite a grant cut of 20 per cent.
Cheshire East Council has been told its revenue support grant – the key chunk of annual funding councils receive from central government – will be £10m less in April.
But despite this, council leader Michael Jones believes he can prevent a council tax rise – meaning it will be frozen for the fifth year running.
He said: “We care about the pounds, the pennies and the people.
“We are even closer to being able to confirm that there will be no council tax increase for our residents for the fifth consecutive year, despite having our revenue support grant cut by £9.66m, or 19.9 per cent.
“Indeed, there may even be a small surplus to reinvest in the people of the borough.”
Cheshire East’s £750m budget for next year includes plans to cut a further £8.7m from its spending.
Coun Jones claims that the council has saved millions by creating wholly-owned operating companies including: Ansa (waste and streetscene services); Orbitas (bereavement services); Everybody Sport and Recreation Ltd (leisure services); CoSocius (HR, finance and ICT support) and East Cheshire Engine of the North (land and property estate services).
Coun Jones said: “We now do far more with a lot less and that’s the radical way we need to be.
“We are very confident in Cheshire East that we can cope with our planned reduction in spending next year.
“We are adopting different ways of working. We need to be innovative going forward and that’s what we are doing.
“A higher percentage of our income now comes from council tax. We have also got economic growth and jobs.
“Nothing has closed at Cheshire East Council and there have been no compulsory redundancies among the staff.
“People are working differently, we are saving money by using armslength companies rather than outsourcing to the private sector.
“This is the right way for a modern council to reduce waste and deal with the pressures of cost reduction.
“We’ve got a budget to balance in this country and we have all got to work together to achieve that.”