Tuesday 16 August 2022
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Nottingham

4% council tax rise for Nottinghamshire moves a step closer

Nottinghamshire County Council’s planned 4 per cent council tax rise has moved a step closer after the authority’s finance committee approved the first stages of its budget.

The increase would see the standard precept increase by one per cent and the separate social care precept by three per cent.

The council says the extra money is needed to fund increasing demand for social care and to improve the condition of the county’s roads.

It means people living in ‘Band A’ or ‘Band B’ properties, which make up about 60 per cent of all homes in Nottinghamshire, would see annual bills rise by £42.16 and £49.19 respectively.

Band C properties will see bills rise by £56.21 per year, with Band D increasing by £64.24, Band E by £77.29, Band F by £91.35, Band G by £105.40 and Band H by £126.48 over the year.

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But the increase comes alongside a backdrop of the Government giving a £150 council tax rebate to all residents living in Bands A to D homes for the coming financial year.

The payment is being planned to support households with the upcoming cost of living crisis and a surge in household gas and electricity bills.

In Nottinghamshire, 88.4 per cent of all homes are listed in Bands A to D, with slightly more than 330,000 properties due to benefit from the rebate.

The council tax rebate will not need to be repaid and will be issued directly by local authorities, with councils to automatically adjust residents’ bills if they pay by direct debit.

If residents pay in instalments, the discount will be split equally across each of those individual payments.

Councillor Richard Jackson (Con), chairman of Nottinghamshire County Council’s finance committee, welcomed the move last week and said it will support residents with soaring household bills.

But speaking in the finance committee meeting on Monday 7 February, one opposition councillor accused the Conservative-led authority of being a victim of “Stockholm Syndrome” by falling for the rebate “hook, line and sinker”.

Cllr Lee Waters (Ash Ind), who represents Hucknall South, welcomed the rebate but said reduced Government grants since 2010 has meant the council tax “burden” on residents has been higher than it may have needed to be.

“Year on year, the Conservatives in Government have axed tens of millions in revenue support,” he added.

“At the very time as Nottinghamshire residents’ council tax has dramatically gone up, Government support has dramatically gone down.

“Councils are on the brink, yet Tory austerity has added £477 onto each household Council Tax bill.

“Whilst the £150 council tax rebate is welcome, it is merely a sticking plaster that hides the fact that 12 years of Tory austerity has hit residents in the pocket.”

Responding to Cllr Waters, however, committee chairman Cllr Jackson said the authority is one of the “highest benefiting authorities” for Government funding in the coming year.

And he said the authority is in a position where it can invest in services and will not be making any cuts.

“Rather than Government cuts, we have benefited,” he said.

“We are one of the highest-benefiting authorities in terms of additional funding for this financial year.

“It’s around £18.9 million of additional funding for this year alone. There are improved services and investments in services in this budget.”

Cllr Jim Creamer (Lab), who represents Carlton West, also raised concerns about the budget and the lack of a long-term funding strategy from Government.

At present, Whitehall has offered authorities a one-year financial settlement for the coming year, but councils are expected to put together a three-year financial strategy.

It means councils have to predict how much grant support they will receive from the Government for the following two years, leaving uncertainty over the level of council tax needed to balance the books.

And Cllr Creamer said it’s “impossible” for the authority to put together a long-term plan without longer-term investment, adding the council is in “unknown territory” when it comes to both future funding and the rise in inflation.

Councillors approved recommendations to move the budget to its next stage of approval, with the document to go before all councillors for debate on February 24.

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