William Eichler 13 January 2016

18% council tax increase will save services, Scottish council argues

18% council tax increase will save services, Scottish council argues image

Scottish council proposes 18% hike in council tax after a nine-year freeze in an attempt to save frontline services.

Moray Council is the first local authority in Scotland to indicate that it intends to raise council tax in order to balance the budget without making huge cuts to services.

The council had been facing a financial shortfall of £6.8m for the year ahead but that figure rose to £11.9m after the Scottish Government announced last month that local government funding would be cut by 3.5% this year.

Cllr Stewart Cree, Moray Council leader, said: ‘The administration group has examined all realistic options very closely, but this level of financial reduction has placed an entirely new dimension on our deliberations.’

'While we will continue to look at further efficiencies,’ he continued, ‘we have to recognise that there is no way we can achieve this level of savings by efficiencies alone.

‘Equally, we do not believe that the people of Moray should have to see the services and facilities that they cherish so much continue to deteriorate and that is why we have decided to consider increasing council tax to a level that would protect services both now and in the future.’

A council tax increase of 18% would raise £5m next year, which—when combined with £5m from reserves and £1.9m worth of savings—would balance the budget for 2016-17.

Cllr Cree acknowledges there will be a £1.1m penalty imposed on Moray by the Scottish government. But he says this ‘pales into insignificance’ when compared to cutting services.

An 18% rise would see the council tax for an average Band D property increase from £1135–where it has been pegged since 2007–to £1339. A Band A property would go up from £756 to £892 and a Band H from £2270 to £2678.

Cllr Cree admits there has not been any public consultation on this question, but says he believes the people of Moray will understand the difficult situation.

‘In this case, where no consultation was offered by the Finance Secretary and due to the extreme and pressing nature of this further funding cut by the Scottish Government, we apologise that we will be unable to bring these matters to the public in time for next month’s budget meeting.

'However, I know full well from previous budget consultations that the Moray public values very dearly the services and facilities which the council provides and that is why I am confident that they will see the good sense in paying a little extra in council tax to ensure that these services and facilities are not eroded further.’

Participatory budgeting image

Participatory budgeting

Evgeny Barkov explains what participatory budgeting means and how it can reveal what citizens need.
For your free daily news bulletin
Highways jobs

Youth Service Lead

Essex County Council
Essex is a diverse county which encompasses some of the highest levels of deprivation in the country as well as some highly affluent communities. This England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Qualified Social Workers within Adult Services

Essex County Council
£30906 - £42254 per annum
Essex County Council ( ECC) can offer a wide range of opportunities within Adult Social Care for Qualified Social Workers across a variety of teams an England, Essex, Colchester
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Building Surveyor

Essex County Council
£38001.0 - £43299.0 per annum
Discover the perfect work/life balance - then combine it with genuine job satisfaction. At Essex County Council, we are proud to support a highly skil England, Essex, Chelmsford
Recuriter: Essex County Council

Social Care Manager - Preparing for Adulthood Team

City of York Council
£30,500 - £34,797 per annum
We are looking for someone who will... York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of York Council

Control Practitioner - Nights

City of York Council
£21,400 to £23,793 per annum) reduced pro-rata
Be Independent are a City of York council service focused on assisting customers to live independently in their own homes. York, North Yorkshire
Recuriter: City of York Council

Public Property

Latest issue - Public Property News

This issue of Public Property examines how how flexible workspaces can lead the way in regeneration for local authorities, Why local authority intervention is key to successful urban regeneration schemes and if the Government’s challenge of embracing beauty is an opportunity for communities.

The March issue also takes a closer look at Blackburn with Darwen Council's first digital health hub to help people gain control over health and care services.

Register for your free digital issue