The District Councils’ Network has responded to this afternoon’s Government local government finance policy statement.
There will be a maximum council tax rise of 2.99% or £5 and councils will receive a 3% minimum funding increase before council tax increases are taken into account. We welcome the decision to maintain the New Homes Bonus for another year.
Cllr Elizabeth Dennis, finance spokesperson of the District Councils’ Network, said:
“The tight funding settlement announced today means most district councils will feel they face no alternative other than to put up council tax bills in order to safeguard the services upon which their communities depend.
“Even if councils go for the maximum council tax rises allowed, the small growth in our income comes nowhere near to keeping up with the inflationary and demand pressures that have accumulated over the past two years and will continue into the next year.
“The last thing we want to do is to scale back the preventative and value-adding services on which our communities depend and which save money for the NHS, wider public sector and the taxpayer –such as leisure and wellbeing, housing, homelessness prevention, and community outreach. But the likelihood is that many councils will have to do this.
“Councils need more freedom to set council tax, fees and charges locally at a level which meets the needs of their local communities. We call on the Government to look again and act to help us preserve these vital local services for the benefit of the whole of local government and the taxpayer.
“This is not a sustainable way of running local government finance. We need to devise a new system which gives councils long-term security to invest in and develop their services, and can help refocus public expenditure towards early intervention and prevention.”