Council tax increase for residents in Cambridgeshire
The Conservative administration at Cambridgeshire County Council is planning to increase the authority’s share of council tax by 3.59 per cent this year.
A final decision on the county council’s plans will be made on February 11, but with a majority in the council chamber the Conservatives are almost certain to pass their own amendment, proposing a 1.59 per cent increase, plus a two per cent increase specifically for adult social care.
For the upcoming financial year – 2020/21 – the council can legally raise council tax by 1.99 per cent (3.99 per cent including the adult social care precept) without holding a confirmatory referendum.
The Conservatives’ proposed increase would add £47.07 for the year to the average property, seeing the cost for a Band D property owed to the council rise from £1,312.11 to £1,359.18.
Council tax is also paid to district authorities and the police and fire services, and so the overall household bill will be larger and may rise further.
Both the main opposition on the county council, the Liberal Democrats, and the smaller Labour group, are proposing a 3.99 per cent increase, including the two per cent adult social care precept.
The budget proposed to the full council from the Conservative-controlled general purposes committee held on January 28 still contains a budget deficit of £4 million which will now be covered by the increase in council tax.
The Conservative budget amendment which includes the ruling group’s proposals says: “The administration understands the importance of balancing any increase in council tax with the funding requirements of the council, bearing in mind that any increase in council tax directly affects many of our residents.
“It is after years of prudent financial management by this Conservative administration that the council can now make significant investment in areas that matter to many.
“Although we would like to do more, and more quickly, we are still constrained by a lack of government funding when compared to similar authorities.
“However, unlike other authorities or indeed other political groups on this council, and as our precept history shows, we will not raise council tax by the maximum allowed each year unless we absolutely feel it necessary to do so.
“We always take a prudent financial view of both the short term and longer medium term needs and requirements.”
The Liberal Democrat alternative budget amendment proposes reducing cuts to adult social care and youth services, while investing to prevent climate change.
The Labour group says its budget proposals are “to prevent further reductions in services by rescinding the proposed cuts in the budgets for adults and children’s services”.
The Conservative amendment also includes plans to invest in preventing climate change and improving community services.
The final decision will be made at a meeting of the full council on February 11 where each party will push its own amendments for services, investments and how to produce a balanced budget, and there will be further debate on the need to raise council tax.
Ben Hatton, Local Democracy Reporting Service