Seal: CrazyiTunesAmazon

Seal: CrazyiTunesAmazon

Council tax increase on the cards

Council tax increase on the cards

Published at 6:04pm 16th February 2016. (Updated at 6:20pm 16th February 2016)

Households across North Yorkshire could face higher council tax bills.

Members of North Yorkshire County Council's Executive have voted unanimously to recommend an increase of just under 4% from April.

It comes after being told that they had "no choice whatsoever" if the authority was to continue to prioritise frontline services.

Even with the tax increase, which includes a 2% social care precept, the council must still find another £50 million from its revenue budget by 2019/20 as a result of Government cuts.

It's already got plans for £36 million, but there is a remaining savings gap of £14 million.

Without the tax increase for the next four years, it would face a gap of £56 million.

County Councillor Gareth Dadd, North Yorkshire's Deputy Leader, says the council has a duty to prioritise services which protect the most vulnerable people in society, but it also needs to continue to invest in programmes such as superfast broadband and tackling potholes on the roads to boost growth and economic development.

He added: "We have delivered savings so far in a way that has been sensitive to the needs of the county and we want to continue in this way. We have not slashed and burned as some councils have done; this year's budget is part of a carefully planned nine-year innovative savings programme to prioritise the frontline. Today's recommendation is based on our wish to be able to continue with this programme.

"We will now go away and work on a plan to save the outstanding £14 million."

Even if the council agrees to introduce an increase in council tax at its quarterly meeting next week, it will need to make savings of another £50.3 million by 2019/20, on top of the £116 million made between 2011/12 and 2015/16, giving a total of £166.3 million over the decade.

This represents a reduction of around 33% in the council's spending power.

County Councillor Carl Les, North Yorkshire's Leader, said: "We wish to thank our MPs and pay tribute to the Communities Secretary for taking on board our concerns and for providing a final settlement which provides short-term relief to help us to manage the considerable financial challenges we still must face in the longer term.

"There still remains the important issue of fairer funding for rural areas and I intend to carry on raising this point with Government with the support of our MPs.

"Over five years, we have already delivered £116 million in savings, the majority of this without impacting upon frontline services. We can now carry on with this programme in a measured way and avoid knee-jerk decisions."

The budget recommended for 2016/17 includes £3 million for a further roll-out of superfast broadband, so that the county gets close to 100% coverage.

It also includes a £7.5 million capital investment to increase in primary school places, on the basis that match-funding is secured from the Department for Education.