COUNCIL Tax in Coventry will rise by an annual average of £70 from April after Coventry City Council approved the ruling Labour group’s budget.
The Labour group says it will raise its share of tax by 2.9 per cent – an annual increase of £46 for an average Band D property – to help combat homelessness and fly-tipping, and improve waste management.
With West Midlands Police having announced an 18.67 per cent rise in its share, Coventrians will pay an average of £70 more over the year – including the police precept of £24.
Council bosses are warning there could be a £17million funding gap in Coventry council’s budget in its year as UK City of Culture 2021.
They have attributed the council’s fiscal problems to uncertainty over future government funding and inflationary pressures.
The council announced its budget for the city in 2019/20 at a full council meeting last week.
The budget comes on the back of £113million in cuts from central government to Coventry council’s budgets since 2010, chiefs say.
Cabinet member for finance Coun John Mutton said the council was able to earmark more funding for a number of key services.
He added: “We are all well aware that we have a national housing crisis with rising numbers of rough sleepers in the city centre, and hundreds of families in unsuitable B and B accommodation.
“We are working hard to increase the work we do to reduce homelessness and have identified a number of projects to ensure more temporary accommodation is available.
“I’m also keen to see more done to address fly-tipping in communities in the city.
“Last year we put extra funds towards targeted fly-tipping removal teams in areas where the biggest problems exist.
“We know that this problem still continues so we have taken a decision to make this new service permanent.”
They say the budget will continue to fund key projects in the city despite confirming at a cabinet meeting last week that £58million funding for such schemes would be pushed back until next year.
This was because the faltering City Centre South, Whitley South and Friargate regeneration schemes are set to fall short of targets.
But it will still be ‘the largest capital programme’ the council has overseen the modern era – a five year programme worth £722million.
Council chiefs say they have secured a balanced budget despite needing to find more money to manage costs of homelessness and waste disposal.
From April to December last year, the council spent over £3million more than its £2.7million budget supporting families and individuals in temporary and supported accommodation – reflecting increasing homelessness in the city.
There was also a £3million overspend on the council’s children’s services – with the number of looked-after children in the city continuing to rise.
It also overspent by £4million on Special Educational Needs transport after a 10 per cent increase in the number of children and young people receiving travel assistance compared to September 2017.
But extra government funds for adult and children’s social care, new homes and dividends from the part-council owned Coventry and Solihull Waste Disposal Company mean no further savings have had to be identified to cover extra costs.
There will be more money granted to prepare for UK City of Culture 2021 – including plans for a ‘spring clean’ of the city – which will go before council in the next few months.