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Poole councillors agree 4.99% rise in council tax

Councillors in Poole have agreed to raise council tax by 4.99% to help fund adult social care and maintain important frontline services.

At a meeting of Full Council on Tuesday 21 February, councillors approved the council’s budget and the level of council tax for 2017/18.

The 4.99% increase in the council’s share of council tax means the annual bill for a Band D property will be £1,320.57 from 1 April, excluding the additional charges for police and fire services. This is an increase of £62.73 a year, or £1.21 a week.

Council tax bills in Poole will remain the lowest in Dorset, despite further cuts in government funding and increasing demand for services, particularly for vulnerable children, adults and older people.

The 4.99% increase includes a 3% ‘social care precept’ to specifically fund adult social care.

The council must save more than £23 million between 2017 and 2020 to balance its budget. By 2020, the council will be completely reliant on the money it raises locally through council tax and other means, as the government withdraws all funding for local services.

Read more about the council's budget challenge between 2017 and 2020.

The council’s budget for 2017/18:

  • manages a further £5 million reduction in annual government funding to Poole
  • manages a total cut of £30 million a year in government funding since 2011/12
  • prioritises investment in services for the most vulnerable with an extra £2.3 million for adults and children’s social care
  • reduces the use of the council’s reserves to £0.8 million
  • provides no increase in Members’ Allowances

Cllr May Haines, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Finance, Borough of Poole, said: “The council has had to make some difficult decisions over the past 12 months to reach a position where we can now set a balanced budget for 2017/18, one that is less reliant on reserves. This budget puts us on a more sustainable footing to face the further financial challenges ahead.

“Further reductions in our government funding and increasing demand for our services means we must reluctantly raise council tax. The 3% increase to social care precept will help, but it does not cover the £5 million reduction in government funding this year.

“We will continue to focus on our priorities with the money available to us, including investment in social care, providing sufficient school places for our young people and making progress on our affordable housing programme. Also, we will continue to look for more savings by changing the way we work, being even more efficient and entrepreneurial in our approach to delivering services.”

View Cllr May Haines full Budget speech here.

The council’s medium term financial plan forecasts a further funding gap of £6.1 million up to 2019/20, over and above its existing savings plans.

Cllr Janet Walton, Leader of the Council, said: “We continue to prioritise our spending where it matters most - on caring for the most vulnerable members of our community. At the same time, this robust budget will help us deliver our ambition for Poole to be a great place to live, learn, work and play - now and for many years to come.

“There is no doubt that the council faces an unprecedented financial challenge as it prepares for a future without government funding for local services. We must live within our means and significant changes are clearly still needed if we are to meet our funding pressures. Poole is not alone in facing this financial challenge and that is why the proposal to change from nine Dorset councils to two new councils offers a real opportunity for transforming the way we deliver services to our local residents."