Council tax set to rise in Cornwall as savings of more than £46m needed in next year
Cornwall Council is set to increase council tax by almost three per cent and will have to make savings of more than £46million in the next financial year.
The council is currently facing a budget gap of £62m for the coming year and has had to find ways of cutting its costs so that it can present a balanced budget.
A full report on the budget plans for 2023/24 will be presented to the council’s Cabinet next week.
It warns that there could be increased demand for council services as a result of the cost of living crisis and that there is uncertainty about the level of funding that might be provided by central government.
The report states: “Normally, at this time of the year, we have some idea of the grants we will receive from Government.
"At the time of writing this report, we have no certainty over the Government’s intentions on funding allocations.
“As a result of the reversal of the majority of measures set out in the Government’s ‘mini-budget’/Growth Plan, we are aware of major efficiency savings targets that Government departments have been asked to make.
"Have no doubts, this will impact negatively on the amount of resources that the council will receive from Government.”
The council is proposing to increase its share of council tax bills by 2.99%, below the rate of inflation and in line with the proposals which were set out in its medium-term financial plan last year. The council tax increase will again include a 1% levy for adult social care.
In addition, the council is planning for a 4.5% pay offer for staff in 2023/24. The council says that these preparations will protect frontline services.
David Harris, deputy leader of the council, said: “This has been a very difficult budget process with some very difficult decisions still to be made before we are able to finally close the budget gap.
“Good financial management and planning last year left us in a sound position, but the effects of the global economic uncertainty have created inflationary pressures that have hit us hard, and left us needing to find further savings to plug the financial gap.
“Ensuring our council tax does not rise by more than 2.99% was a real priority as we need to protect our residents who are also being hit so hard by the cost of living crisis.
"And indeed, we continue to offer additional support for those who need it most through our Council Tax Support Scheme.
“This budget focuses on ensuring we spend the money we have on those things that matter most to our residents, those essential statutory services like care, housing and waste collection, while critically reviewing those services which we have a choice to, rather than are obliged to, provide.
“While this budget is based on the funding plans currently in place, we will continue through all avenues available to work hard with Government to secure extra funding for Cornwall.”
If the proposals are approved by the Cabinet next week they will go out for public consultation before going to the council’s overview and scrutiny committees for consideration before going back to Cabinet in the new year.
A final decision on the budget plans will be made early next year and the new council tax bills will start from April.
Credit: Local Democracy Reporter Service/Richard Whitehouse