Peterborough to consider 6% council tax rise due to huge deficit confirms leader

Cabinet member for resources Cllr David Seaton holding budget proposals alongside council leader Cllr John Holdich
Cabinet member for resources Cllr David Seaton holding budget proposals alongside council leader Cllr John Holdich
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Council tax may now rise by six per cent in April, the leader of Peterborough City Council has confirmed.

The council agreed last week to increase council tax by five per cent which was the maximum allowed by the Government.

But following an announcement yesterday (Tuesday, December 19) by Local Government Secretary Sajid Javid that local authorities can now increase the rate by six per cent instead of five, council leader Cllr John Holdich said this will now be discussed by his Conservative administration.

Cllr Holdich told the Peterborough Telegraph: “We will consider putting it up to the full amount. We’ve got to make another £35 million of reductions (over the next three years) and we can’t afford not to look at it.

“The other option is to cut services.”

The five per cent rise agreed last week was the second year in a row that the council has increased council tax by that amount. The rise is set to add an extra £48 to the average annual council tax bill.

Of that five per cent council tax increase, three per cent had to be ringfenced for adult social care.

That ringfence remains in place even if council tax is now increased by six per cent.

The decision on whether to increase council tax next year in Peterborough by six per cent - or keep the increase at five per cent - will be announced in early January, when the council reveals its second set of budget proposals for 2018/19.

The authority has a deficit of nearly £19 million to tackle due to government cuts and rising costs largely due to an increase in homelessness and residents needing social care.

Every one per cent rise in council tax will bring in an extra £700,000 to the council, Cllr Holdich said.

The council is currently campaigning for fairer funding. It wants the Government to redistribute funds more fairly between councils as it says Peterborough is hard done by under the current formula.

Cllr Holdich said the council has to “keep the pressure on” with the hope that more money comes into the local authority next year.

In a further announcement yesterday, the Government said police and crime commissioners are to be given the power to raise the portion of council tax which goes towards policing by £12 per household annually.

This will go towards an extra £450 million pot for policing across England and Wales.

Police and Crime Commissioner for Cambridgeshire Jason Ablewhite said: “The Police and Crime Commissioner, Jason Ablewhite, welcomes the Government announcement that police and crime commissioners can increase the policing part of the council tax by up to £12 (per Band D property).

“The recently announced Local Policing Review recognises the challenges faced by the constabulary in terms of increased demand on services and remains the right structure to both maintain neighbourhood policing whilst working with communities and partners to reduce crime.

“However, any increase in funds would enable the constabulary to increase warranted police officers on the frontline to strengthen community safety across the county.

“We are already doing a great deal to drive efficiencies, not only within the constabulary but also wider within Triforce and 7 Force collaboration.

“The Local Policing Review has already indicated an increase of 50 police officers, however yesterday’s government announcement now gives us an opportunity to increase frontline officer to potentially 150 over the next two years.

“This will significantly increase our ability to respond, investigate and deter people from criminality.

“The commissioner will be engaging with Cambridgeshire residents in the New Year through a public survey which will explain a number of options, and what each potential rise would mean in terms of increased resources.

“The consultation will start in early January.”

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