Councillors in Poole will be asked to support a 4.99% rise in Council Tax from April 2017 to help protect the most vulnerable and maintain important frontline services.
Members of Borough of Poole's Cabinet have agreed to recommend the increase as part of a package of measures to offset further cuts to government funding and increasing demand for services.
The 4.99% increase includes a 3% rise in the ‘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
Cllr May Haines, Deputy Leader of the Council and Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Finance, Borough of Poole, said: "We are committed to keeping Council Tax as low as possible without having a major adverse impact on local services. The government’s decision to allow councils to raise Council Tax by 4.99%, including a 3% social care precept, is welcome. However, this leaves us still having to find a further £1.6 million just to cover a total reduction in government funding of £5.1 million for the next 12 months. On top of this, the council must find another £4.4 million to cover the increasing cost and demographic pressures it faces to provide vital services for our older people, vulnerable adults and children.
“We are continuing to prioritise our spending where it matters most - on caring for the most vulnerable members of our community. Inevitably, this has an impact on how much money we have to spend on other services. By 2020, 75% of all the council’s spending will go towards funding adult and children’s services. This leaves less money to pay for universal services such as bin collections, libraries, parks and road maintenance.”
“In recent months, the council has had to make some tough decisions on services and changes to some fees and charges. Proposing a rise in Council Tax is also a difficult decision, but it is one which we are compelled to make in order to maintain services now and put the council’s budget on a sound and sustainable footing in anticipation of when all government funding is withdrawn by 2020.
“We are committed to setting a responsible budget that is less reliant on using one-off reserves to achieve a balanced position. However, the council is still spending more on services than the income it receives. Therefore, it is vital we reach a sustainable budget position where the available funds match the true costs of providing services.”
The proposed rise in Council Tax for 2017/18 will be debated at the annual budget setting meeting of Full Council on Tuesday 21 February.
Read the full Cabinet report on the council's budget and Council Tax for 2017/18