Rise marks end of a five year Council Tax freeze

Fylde's freeze on Council Tax rates is ending after five years.

Thursday, 10th March 2016, 3:04 pm
Updated Thursday, 10th March 2016, 3:06 pm
Fylde Council Tax payers will have to fork out more for the first time in five years, it has been announced.

Councillors have voted to increase average Band D Council Tax bills by an annual £4.98.

The Town Hall’s total £9.371m expenditure for the new financial year starting next month includes forecast savings of £638,000.

That includes £125,000 to be saved in delaying recruitment to vacant jobs, £201,000 to be saved in reduced borrowing costs, £20,000 in reduced fuel costs, £24,000 expected to be saved by examining previous years’ budget underspends and £24,000 from renegotiated contracts with suppliers.

Coun Sue Fazackerley

Central government support to Fylde Council spending, however, is reducing sharply and reductions will continue until at least 2018/19. Reductions in Whitehall support for the new financial year’s bills include a drop to £861,000 in Revenue Support Grant (down from £1.443m in 2015/16).

Business Rates income, however, will rise from £1.625m in 2015-16 to £1.771m while New Homes Bonus will go up to £1.859m from £1.66m.

Coun Karen Buckley, chairman of Fylde Council’s Finance and Democracy Committee, said: ‘We set out five years ago to reduce the burden to householders of Council Tax bills. Freezes to bills since then have meant they have reduced by 11 per cent in real terms.

“Sadly, the freeze has had to end and we are increasing our Council Tax bills by 2.8 per cent. An average of £4.98 extra per year is a modest increase but we accept that people never like paying more.

Coun Sue Fazackerley

“We have a good record in increasing efficiency – we will save a total of £638,000 in the coming year – without cutting frontline services which remain our priority.

“This commitment to achieving further efficiency savings will increase year on year as Whitehall has already said that their support will continue to decrease. The Revenue Support Grant, for example, will reduce from £1.443m in 2015 to just £47,000 in 2018/19 and will disappear completely the following year.

“We started reducing costs in Fylde back in 2007 when we began cutting management posts. That work of squeezing costs while protecting services to the public will continue.”

The changes to Whitehall support and the forecast expenditure of £9.371m in the coming financial year mean that Council Tax-payers will have to pay a total of £5.484m – up from £5.248m in 2015.

Coun Sue Fazackerley, Fylde Council leader, said: ‘We’re continuing saving this year while minimising the burden on Council Tax-payers.

“We always plan five years ahead to avoid last-minute changes to services – that work will continue in readiness for 2009 when the situation gets even tougher.

“At the same time we are making significant improvements to local facilities which will benefit both our residents and visitors.”

New spending items approved included: £84,000 for refurbishment of toilets at North Promenade, St Annes; £60,000 for a steel-framed windbreak canopy to protect mourners at the exit of Lytham Park Cemetery and Crematorium Chapel; £50,000 towards a Bryning-with-Warton Parish Council scheme to improve Bridges Playing Fields.