Tax ‘to freeze’ for fifth year run­ning

Macclesfield Express - - NEWS -

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.”

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