17th Nov, 2019

Coventry council tax bills could rise by 2.9pc with £9.4m budget cuts - and Godiva Festival parking charges

Les Reid 19th Nov, 2018 Updated: 19th Nov, 2018

COUNCIL tax bills in Coventry could rise next year by a further 2.9 per cent – with at least £9.4million more budget cuts.

Council leaders calculate it would remove a further £36 from average household budgets from next April.

The estimate is contained in Labour leaders’ pre-budget report, to be discussed at a cabinet meeting next Tuesday (November 27).

The final budget will be set at a full council meeting in February, following public consultation.

Proposals include further changes in council grants to charities, and raising fees for certain domestic recycling, pest control services and parking at the Godiva Festival.

Coventry City Council’s leaders also warn of having to find a further £17million of savings for the following year, 2020/21 – £4million less than predicted in February this year.

They blame ‘uncertainty’ over future government funding cuts to local authorities, despite recent ministerial announcements of ending ‘austerity’.

This predicted 2020/21 ‘budget gap’ – the difference between expected income and spending – is also based on estimated inflation and demand for council services.

Cuts in council services since 2010 have affected the young, old and vulnerable – from disabled transport to schools and children’s centre closures, to budget cuts to charities.

Government funding cuts to the city council since 2010 now amount to £113million, council leaders say.

Council Tax rose by 4.9 per cent this year from April – adding £82 for an average Band D home.

It included three per cent to go directly to adult social care, as permitted by the government.

Further work on tackling the budget gap before February will include examining chancellor Philip Hammond’s recent announcement of an extra £650million government funding for adult social care and children.

Councillor John Mutton, finance cabinet member, said: “The council remains committed to seeking to protect its most vulnerable citizens and to delivering a range of core services to everyone in the city at a time of large reductions in government funding.

“..We have identified new commercial income streams, worked hard at increasing our tax revenues, and because of technical measures we have introduced like trimming our contingency budgets.”

He added: “I have big concerns for future years. We still need the government to set out a fairer, long term solution to council funding. We are counting down to a point in the coming years when we may have to stop some of the services we provide. I did not come into politics to cut services.”

Coun Mutton added: “We have identified a number of new savings proposals within service departments to be included in this report as a basis for consultation. “These proposals would reduce the current budget gap for 2019/20 from £10million to £0.6million, so we are confident of achieving our target of a balanced budget.”

Further details will be published in the pre-budget report, expected on the council website tomorrow.

Cost pressures include a £2.9million rise in providing temporary accommodation to the homeless this year, council leaders say.

Added income is coming from fees for commercial waste, planning fees, additional property rents, and ‘dividends generated from the council’s investment in Coombe Abbey Hotel’.

The council’s capital programme includes investment in the National Battery Manufacturing Development Facility; The Wave Water Park; 50metre pool at the Higgs Centre; new indoor bowls facility; and the Salt Lane multi-storey car park.

Opposition Conservative councillors have repeatedly accused Labour leaders of disproportionately blaming local decisions on government funding cuts.

They say the cuts have helped to tackle the national deficit, and local government inefficiency and unaccountability – by incentivising councils to raise their own income streams.

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