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Council decides not to increase council tax

Mansfield District Council has decided not to increase council tax to plug a £1.9m hole in its budget next year.

New papers reveal the gap will instead be funded through savings, reserves and increased fees and charges.

The Labour-run authority confirmed in October it needs to find £1,894,000 to balance the books in 2023/24.

Its spending – known as the general fund revenue budget – is higher than previously forecast due to rising inflation, energy pressures and increased staff pay.

The council said in October £332,000 has been added to its costs through electricity increases, with gas budgets rising by £254,000.

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And a further £802,000 has been added because of a nationally-agreed £1,925 pay award for all council staff in England.

In October papers, the authority outlined ways of plugging the gap before a scrutiny committee assessed the administration’s plans.

These included £9,000 in ‘cost reductions’, £755,000 in ‘establishment savings’ and £142,000 in ‘income generation’.

A further £18,000 would come from ‘service reductions’, with £473,000 in corporate reserves, £247,000 from existing balances and £250,000 from the Wildflower Rise housing development.

New papers confirm the scrutiny committee was supportive of most savings proposals put forward by the Labour administration.

This was except for a proposed parks team reduction by two full-time employees.

The scrutiny committee has instead asked the administration to find the £53,789 expected to be generated through voluntary redundancies.

The Labour cabinet, chaired by mayor Andy Abrahams, will discuss the scrutiny committee’s amended proposals on Monday, December 12.

In papers, the authority said: “Members were supportive that the executive’s draft budget did not include any proposal to increase the council’s element of council tax.

“[This is] given the current cost of living crisis and the possibility of other precepting bodies raising their element of the tax.”

If the authority does freeze its bills, it would be the second year running in which precepts have not risen.

It follows Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s autumn statement last month which told councils the maximum amount they could raise precepts by.

Authorities such as Mansfield will be able to raise bills by three per cent without holding a public referendum on the plans.

If the authority had taken up the full amount, people living in ‘Band A’ homes would have paid the council an extra £3.90 per year.

The increase would have been £5.85 per year for a ‘Band D’ home.

However, residents in Mansfield could still see their wider council tax bills rise in 2023/24 if other authorities which make up the overall cost increase their precepts in April.

Nottinghamshire County Council has been told it can raise bills by five per cent – including the same three per cent rise for regular services and a further two per cent for social care.

If the Conservative-led council took up the full amount, a Band D home would see its bill rise by £82,20.

Bills could also be increased by the Police and Crime Commissioner Caroline Henry (Con) and the Nottinghamshire Fire Authority.

Neither has set out their council tax plans at this stage.

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