Bid to bal­ance books sees coun­cil tax hike

Macclesfield Express - - HANDS OFF OUR HOSPITAL - KAREN BRIT­TON

COUN­CIL tax is set to rise by nearly four per cent as Cheshire East seeks to bal­ance its books.

The au­thor­ity an­nounced the pro­posal to in­crease the tax by 3.99pc to­day in a re­port which out­lines draft plans for the coun­cil’s bud­get next year.

The pre-bud­get re­port states how the coun­cil will save £100m to bal­ance the books over the next three years and sur­vive cuts in gov­ern­ment fund­ing.

Cheshire East is fac­ing sig­nif­i­cant re­duc­tions in fund­ing from cen­tral gov­ern­ment whilst pres­sure on so­cial care ser­vices in­creases.

The coun­cil pro­poses to in­crease taxes and change how ser­vices are run to deal with this. The over­all aim is to make the coun­cil fi­nan­cially self-suf­fi­cient, by re­duc­ing its reliance on cen­tral gov­ern­ment rev­enue sup­port grant from £40m in 2015/16 to nil by 2020.

Cheshire East has launched a pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on the re­port - invit­ing feed­back from res­i­dents, busi­nesses, coun­cil­lors, par­ish coun­cils and other stake­hold­ers.

Coun Peter Groves, cab­i­net mem­ber for fi­nance and as­sets, said: “Cheshire East is a high­per­form­ing au­thor­ity and a great place to live, work, do busi­ness and visit. Our res­i­dents en­joy good liv­ing stan­dards and, when they need help from the Coun­cil, we are con­sis­tently recog­nised as pro­vid­ing ex­cel­lent ser­vices.

“How­ever, set­ting out our fi­nan­cial plans for the next three years is par­tic­u­larly chal­leng­ing in the UK-wide con­text of big re­duc­tions in gov­ern­ment grants to coun­cils and ris­ing de­mand for vi­tal ser­vices such as so­cial care.

“The con­sul­ta­tion doc­u­ment pro­vides a strong set of ini­tial pro­pos­als that bal­ance the coun­cil’s medium-term fi­nances. It is also a real op­por­tu­nity for in­ter­ested par­ties to en­gage in the bud­get-set­ting process.

“Cheshire East puts its res­i­dents first. I value the opin­ions of lo­cal res­i­dents, busi­nesses and or­gan­i­sa­tions and I would en­cour­age peo­ple to give their views via the con­sul­ta­tion.

“New ideas that could help the coun­cil achieve its out­comes, are al­ways wel­come, so I would en­cour­age peo­ple to re­spond to the con­sul­ta­tion.”

The pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion on the pre-bud­get re­port for 2017 – 2020 runs un­til Jan­uary 10. Go to www. cheshireeast.gov.uk.

The re­sponses will be an­a­lysed be­fore bud­get­set­ting de­ci­sions are taken by a meet­ing of full coun­cil in Fe­bru­ary 2017.

Cllr Peter Groves

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