3rd Mar, 2021

Coventry's finance boss says Government should fund most of the authority's 4.9 per cent council tax rise

COVENTRY City Council is proposing a 4.9 per cent increase in its part of the the 2021/22 council tax bill in a bid to avoid cuts to frontline services.

The authority will set out its budget report at the next council meeting on Tuesday, February 23.

Included in the document is £38million earmarked to fund cost pressures and income losses incurred through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The council tax rise will be the equivalent of an extra £5 per month for the average Coventry household.

Coun Richard Brown, Cabinet Member for Finance, said: “We are having to make really difficult decisions about how we maintain services and a 1.9 per cent Council Tax rise, plus three per cent that has been forced upon us by central government.

“The three per cent of this covers elements of adult social care.

“The Government should be funding this directly, but instead, it has passed on the bill to the council.

“Finance officers have been looking at every way to ensure efficiency savings, and balance the local authority’s finances during an exceptionally difficult period and we have to continue planning under very uncertain conditions.

“I’ve said already that it feels as though we are steering a boat through extraordinary stormy waters, while bailing furiously just to keep afloat.

“We desperately need the government to help fund a major repair, but all they are doing is giving us an extra bucket to bail with and then asking residents to pay for it.”

The authority will also announce a £220million capital funding programme in 2021/22.

Over the next five years the capital programme is estimated to be £480million as part of ongoing investment delivered by and through the council.

But the programme and the large amounts of external grants generated, can only be spent on allocated building and development schemes and not on day-to-day council services.

Coun Brown said he was more optimistic about the scale of building and development schemes in the city.

He added: “Despite this picture we are announcing no cuts to services while setting out a £220m capital funding programme of building and developments.

“With £165m (75 per cent) coming from external funding from outside the city.

“This capital funding is absolutely crucial, because it strengthens the financial sustainability of the city and supports growth, economic development and job creation.

“The council is committed to continuing to invest and take bold decisions to improve the city and strengthen the council’s future financial position.

“We will not be reducing frontline services and the approach taken is to try and manage the budget position through a range of technical measures, including using one-off resources from reserves.

“Looking ahead, as we navigate through the pandemic, we will have to wait to see whether the years of government austerity has ended or simply paused in the coming months.”

The Final Local Government Finance Settlement has provided local government with broadly the same level of core funding in 2021/22 compared with 2020/21.

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