3rd Mar, 2021

District council tax hike rubber-stamped

A HIKE in council tax has been given the green light by district councillors.

Members of Stratford District Council (SDC) voted to increase its portion of the bill by around three per cent from April, at a meeting this week.

The district’s proportion of an average Band D property bill will go up by £5 to £149.12.

It pays for services including recycling and waste collection, planning, street cleaning, housing, housing benefits, leisure services and children’s play areas.

The proportion of council tax retained by the district council is some seven per cent, with the lion’s share of 76 per cent going to Warwickshire County Council, which recently agreed a hike of nearly three per cent. Warwickshire Police accounts for 12 per cent, while three per cent goes to town and parish councils.

SDC leader Tony Jefferson said: “The pandemic has had a devastating impact on our income as a council and increased our costs as we dealt with it. Suffice to say that over the five years of our Medium Term Financial Strategy (MTFS) the total effect is about £7.5million. “Despite this we have taken steps to ensure that we have produced a sustainable MTFS. One of the key issues is that we have only received a government funding settlement for a single year for the third year running. This makes it difficult to plan with any certainty.

“We have raised our council tax by the maximum permitted, £5 on a Band D property. This brings the total council tax bill to £149.12 for a Band D property. This is 7.5 per cent of the total council tax bill to residents.

“Although we have a long history of strong financial management, having been able to benefit from reserves, this year we are having to make difficult decisions with reductions in funding and rising costs. This year’s budget is not a growth budget as in previous years. The budget for the coming year ensures we are well placed to prepare for the district’s future as we work alongside our partners to respond to the continuing covid-19 pandemic.”

As part of the budget, the council also approved plans to work together with Warwick District Council to create a single statutory South Warwickshire Council, covering all of the services currently carried out by the respective authorities, by April 2024.

Coun Jefferson added: “A key strategic move we have made is the proposed creation of a South Warwickshire Council together with Warwick. There is considerable synergy between the two councils and, over time, the savings in costs will be substantial. We also believe that there will be significant additional benefits to residents from integration.”

A report commissioned by the two district councils, concluded the merger would result in savings of £4.6million over five years.

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