20th Sep, 2018

Council Tax in Coventry set to rise by 4.9 per cent

Les Reid 14th Feb, 2018

COUNCIL Tax in Coventry is set to rise by another inflation-busting 4.9 per cent in April.

And the council is now warning of having to make major cuts and savings of £21million by 2020/21, £2million more than predicted in November.

The figures are contained in council finance officers’ Budget Report to full council next Tuesday (February 20), where the Labour majority is expected to vote through the plans.

The 4.9 per cent council tax rise – the same as was implemented for this financial year, 2017/18 – includes three per cent to go directly to ‘adult social care’.

The government enables councils to include the three per cent for care services for the elderly, mainly at home and in communities. Both councils and the NHS are under increasing strain from a rising population, and with people living longer.

Councils accuse the government of forcing them to meet the costs while disproportionately cutting their budget.

No council is able to set a council tax rise of six per cent or above – up by one per cent from last year – without staging a referendum to allow local voters to decide.

Council leaders have said among the biggest reasons for the failure to balance the books are:

* The cost of children is care rising, with 650 youngsters now in costly council care. It is despite years of attempts to reduce these costs.

* The flagging city centre, with many properties lying empty, resulting in less rent for the council.

* The increasing costs to the council of housing homeless people and families in temporary accommodation.

Council leaders say disproportionate government funding cuts to local authorities since 2010 have already removed more than £100 million from Coventry council coffers.

In that time, there have been cuts in services for the vulnerable, young and elderly in Coventry – including to libraries, children’s centres, nurseries, youth clubs and transport to school for disabled youngsters.

But council leaders also say Coventry has been “successful in driving forward its biggest ever programme of major regeneration and building schemes, by securing over £150million in external funds next year.

“Capital plans (such as building, road, transport and infrastructure projects) in the city amount to more than £900m in the next five years,” they add.

Finance cabinet member John Mutton said: “When we set out our budget a year ago we had to reduce aspects of frontline services and I am determined that this should be avoided for this year.

“For local people the day-to-day services including bin collections, street cleaning and road improvements are crucial.

“Our budget plan will be listing recommendations that will protect our most vulnerable citizens. I’m delighted that this report avoids any new cuts to council services – in the next two years at least.”

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