Harrogate Borough Council last night unanimously approved the authority’s budget plans, which include an increase of 1.99 per cent in council tax – the first increase in seven years and one of smallest increases in the UK.
The move will mean an annual increase of £4.37, or 8 pence per week, for a Band D household.
Even given a reduction in the central government grant for 2016/17 of £1.4 million, the council say they have been able to produce a balanced budget for the next financial year.
Since 2010 the central government grant received by Harrogate Borough Council has reduced by £5.4 million – a 54% reduction.
Over the next three years, government has indicated that most of the funding the council receives will be removed.
- Reductions in existing expenditure – £1.232million
- Increases or new areas of income – £1.384million
Councillor Richard Cooper, Leader of Harrogate Borough Council said:
We have been faced by a series of challenges with this budget. The government’s grant has reduced significantly over the last five years and it will disappear completely within the next three years.
This is the finest budget I have seen in my sixteen years as a councillor. We have worked together with members of the other political parties, adopted their views and produced a balanced budget which protects the council and ensures that we can continue to provide the front line services which are important to our district’s residents.
We have been the envy of many other local authorities having been able to freeze the Harrogate borough element of the council tax for the last six years. However, to ensure we are able to continue providing the best possible service for our residents, we have had to take this into consideration the next financial year.
I believe we have produced a budget which is right for the council and right for the tax payer.
In supporting the proposed budget Harrogate Borough Council’s Liberal Democrat Group asked that the council’s Human Resources Committee should undertake a review of staff pay with the aim of agreeing a phased implementation of the new Living Wage by 2020.
In seconding the proposed budget Councillor Pat Marsh, Leader of Harrogate Borough Council’s Liberal Democrat Group said:
This is history in the making as the whole council, irrespective of party politics is coming together to support this budget. The council has worked very hard to ensure a continuation of service delivery in a difficult environment. I think this is the best presented budget I have seen in 25 years and congratulations should go to all those involved in bringing the budget together.
Our council staff have not been forgotten and the amendment that we put forward and accepted as part of the budget, concerning the Living Wage and how we can maintain salary differentials, will be considered at the earliest opportunity.
It is never easy to say we are going to raise council tax, but it would be remiss of us not to have done this as it would have put the services the council provides in jeopardy. We have managed to create a balanced budget with no cuts in what is a challenging financial atmosphere.