Fenland Council announces likely Council Tax rise for coming year but warns forecasts for future years ‘are volatile and should be treated with caution’
- Credit: Archant
Council Tax payers in Fenland can expect to pay an extra 1.98 per cent in the coming year but with changes to Government support and business rate reforms councillors will be told future increases remain uncertain.
Finance director Rob Bridge will set out the council’s position and recommendations to the overview and scrutiny committee on January 16.
His report details how the savings targets of £601,000 for the coming year has been identified and says next year’s savings have also been earmarked.
Beyond 2019, he says, the council will need to find a further £231,000 worth of savings but with changes coming thick and fast these forecasts “should be treated with caution”.
Mr Bridge says local government has been “at the forefront of the austerity measures introduced by the Government following the General Election in 2010” to reduce the national debt. In Fenland this has meant significant grant reductions since 2010 and by the end of 2016/17 the council will have been forced into making savings/cuts of around £9 million.
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But he says councillors have been “very clear that, where possible, front line services should be protected”. The emphasis, he points out, has been on management and service reviews, shared services, procurement and income generation.
In the current year he says that after net expenditure of £11.5 million the council is forecasting a surplus of £500,000. This has come about through various methods including lower employee costs due to vacancies (£170,000) and higher fees and charges for planning, trade refuse and leisure (£186,000).
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Looking ahead the finance director spells out options relating to new homes bonus and business rates – both of which directly impact local government financing- but Fenland is likely to require a 1.65 per cent council tax rise next year and 1 per cent thereafter.
If council tax was frozen in 2017.18 it would increase the savings required over the medium term by an additional £589,000.
“The forecasts for the years 2018/19-2020/21 are volatile and should be treated with extreme caution,” says Mr Bridge.
“Future finance settlement announcements and consultation outcomes will also determine government funding for these years.
“In addition the forecasts are dependent on achieving the savings identified through the Fenland Council comprehensive spending review process.”
On capital spending, the finance director says projects the council wants to spend money on depend to some extent on continued sale of surplus assets.
“This includes significant amounts from the future disposal of land at the Nene waterfront and other sites in the district,” says Mr Bridge.