WARWICK District Council has agreed not to raise its share of council tax for a second year running.
But with Warwickshire County Council – which receives the lion’s share of the tax – agreeing a 3.94 per cent hike, households will still face a bigger total bill from April as many struggle in the face of the cost of living crisis.
Warwickshire Police and many town and parish councils are also increasing their share of the tax again.
WDC, which receives less than a nine per cent share of the council tax collected, has promised residents the freeze will not impact on the services it provides. These include waste and recycling collections, planning, business support, housing, maintaining and caring for green spaces, street cleaning, public health and safety, arts and sports provision and running elections.
Councillors approved a range of financial support measures which included keeping the levy paid by a Band D household to WDC at the 2021 rate of £176.86 per year and increasing the maximum reduction payable under the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme from 85 per cent to 100 per cent.
And the council also agreed to allocate £52,000 towards supporting the district’s foodbanks during the next financial year.
Conservative WDC leader Coun Andrew Day said: “Setting the budget against the backdrop of rising costs has been hugely challenging. I am therefore pleased that careful planning has allowed us to maintain our excellent service levels whilst at the same time extending our support to our most vulnerable residents, especially those on the lowest incomes.”
Labour group leader, Coun Mini Mangat said freezing WDC’s element of the council tax bill was the right thing to do in an ‘unprecedented’ cost of living crisis.
She added: “We need to stand alongside not only our poorest residents, but all of those who are trying to cope with inflation which has driven sharp falls in household living standards, by voting for the council tax freeze.
“To offer more help, we also amended the budget motion to secure a £52k of grants for food banks across the district, who are supporting so many struggling residents now, many of whom can’t cope even though they are working.”
“This freeze in council tax will not mean any reduction in services, as we have funds in our reserves that are there we can draw on. The poorest in society and our local families are struggling right now and this is the right time for the council to do as much as it can to reduce their burden”
But Green Party councillors fear the freeze puts services to the most vulnerable at risk, and put forward an amendment for a 2.99 per cent rise.
Green group leader Coun Ian Davison said: “There is a horrific £3.5million black hole in this Conservative budget and the only clear proposed action is to cut jobs and services even further.
“It seems that after the failed merger with Stratford, the Conservatives have given up trying to balance the books.”
He added Green Party proposals would have generated an additional £305,000 in the year – with the bulk of the funds used to put WDC’s finances back on ‘a more even keel’ and additional investment on a Homeowners’ retrofit programme.