5pc coun­cil tax hike on hori­zon to fill £70m hole

Macclesfield Express - - REMEMBRANCE SUNDAY - KAREN BRITTON

COUN­CIL tax could rise by nearly five per cent as Cheshire East aims to bal­ance its books.

The coun­cil has pub­lished its Pre-Bud­get Con­sul­ta­tion 2018-21 which out­lines its draft bud­get for the next three years.

The re­port in­cludes a pro­posal to in­crease coun­cil tax by 4.99 per cent from April next year - which would see bills rise by £1 per week for an av­er­age Band D house­hold.

It fol­lows a 4.99pc in­crease in 2017 and 3.75pc in­crease in 2016.

Bosses state the au­thor­ity needs to save money as it faces re­duc­tions in gov­ern­ment grants and ris­ing de­mand for adult so­cial care and chil­dren in care, mean­ing it needs to find £70m over three years.

The coun­cil wants to be­come fi­nan­cially self­suf­fi­cient by re­duc­ing its re­liance on cen­tral gov­ern­ment rev­enue sup­port grant from £40m in 2015/16 to zero in 2020.

Coun Paul Bates, cab­i­net mem­ber for fi­nance and com­mu­ni­ca­tions, said: “The num­ber of res­i­dents re­ceiv­ing care and sup­port from adult so­cial care is in­creas­ing by four per cent a year and the num­ber of chil­dren in so­cial care place­ments has in­creased by 17 per cent.

“This coun­cil will al­ways pri­ori­tise ser­vices for vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple. This means other ser­vices will have to de­liver sav­ings. Ro­bust ac­tion is be­ing taken to re­duce bud­getary pres­sures and en­sure bal­anced fi­nances. And we will lobby the gov­ern­ment to en­sure fu­ture fi­nan­cial set­tle­ments con­tinue to al­low us to achieve this, while pro­tect­ing front­line ser­vices.”

But coun­cil­lor Laura Jeuda, who rep­re­sents Mac­cles­field South, said: “This will hit fam­i­lies who are al­ready strug­gling, with things like the in­ter­est rate rise. We do need more money for ed­uca- tion, for adult so­cial care, but the coun­cil needs to be pru­dent with tax­pay­ers’ money.

“We are see­ing the coun­cil frit­ter money away as it faces in­ves­ti­ga­tions by po­lice.

“A rise in coun­cil tax is frus­trat­ing for res­i­dents when they see vi­tal ser­vices like the buses go­ing.”

The rise does not in­clude any in­creases which may be due in pre­cepts for par­ish coun­cils, Mac­cles­field Town Coun­cil, Cheshire Po­lice and Cheshire Fire and Res­cue. A spokesman for the fire ser­vice and po­lice said no an­nounce­ment has yet been made on pre­cept rises.

The dead­line for com­ments is Jan­uary 12. Email your views to comshapin­gours­er­vices@ cheshireeast.gov.uk.

Ron Town­ley died af­ter col­laps­ing with a sus­pected stroke in the club­house at Pri­ory Park, home to Mac­cles­field Rugby Club

Coun­cil­lor Paul Bates, cab­i­net mem­ber for fi­nance and com­mu­ni­ca­tions at Cheshire East

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