24th Sep, 2018

Coventry council tax set to rise by 4pc with more cuts including to bin collections

Coventry Editorial 21st Nov, 2016 Updated: 21st Nov, 2016

COVENTRY council tax payers could be facing four per cent hikes in bills – to pay for even fewer services.

Weekly bin collections could become fortnightly in a raft of further cuts.

It follows years of cuts affecting care for the elderly, libraries, youth clubs, children’s centres and much more.

The bad news has been delivered today by Coventry City Council leaders who forecast they face £36million more savings in three years.

They estimate 200 more council jobs could go, expected to be found through voluntary redundancy or early retirement.

Finance cabinet member John Mutton (Labour, Binley and Willenhall) blamed government ‘austerity’ cuts to councils since 2010.

He said the city council has lost £95million a year from its budget, and the council anticipated that figure will rise to around £120million by 2019/20.

He said if a family lost 50 per cent of its income, it could not carry on spending in the same way, and the council was no different.

Conservative finance shadow cabinet member Tim Sawdon said more could be done to generate income in other ways – including by generating more in council tax and business rates from additional homes and businesses.

Central government changes are resulting in more reliance on such income for councils, as opposed to government grant.

A total of 54 councillors are set to be retained and the highest paid executive, Martin Reeves, is remunerated around £200,000 a year.

It is despite Mr Reeves working most of the week this year for the West Midlands Combined Authority instead – as first revealed by the Coventry Observer.

Today’s announcement concerns council budget forecasts for the next three years in a ‘pre-budget report’, to be discussed on November 29.

The final budget for 2017/8, including council tax rates will be set at a full council meeting in February following public consultation.

The council has already shed more than 2000 jobs since 2010, while seeking to protect critical frontline staff such as social workers working with vulnerable children, where costs have been rising. More children are in council care since watchdog Ofsted deemed the council’s children’s department to be failing.

Pay and conditions for council staff could be altered to find more savings, council leaders warned in a statement today.

Other proposed cuts include to grounds maintenance in parks and street cleansing, with reduced household waste collections.

Revenue budget savings are also being earmarked from the road repairs and resurfacing programmes; and from employment support services.

Coun Mutton said: “There is also some good news. We are making inroads on a number of building pogrammes including the work around Whitley to assist the Jaguar Land Rover development; the Friargate development; city centre public realm work; and the new water park leisure centre in the city centre.

“The money for the projects can only be used for these programmes, but this will ensure ongoing regeneration in the city.

“In the long term this will assist with job creation and will help to keep money in the city.”

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