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Council tax set to rise 4.99% in Cambridgeshire to make up £4.3million hole in county budget

By Ben Comber

British bank notes and coins. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire
British bank notes and coins. Photo: Gareth Fuller/PA Wire

Council tax is due to increase this year as Cambridgeshire County Council's ruling Conservative party has put forward its plans for a 4.99 per cent hike.

The Tories say that the rise is necessary to protect services. The rise means the average Band D household will see an extra £1.14 added to its council tax bill per week. The city and district councils, and police and fire services, may also choose to add to this increase.

There is a £4.3million funding gap in the county’s budget for 2018-19.

The increase, which will be decided by councillors on February 6, accounts for a 2.99 per cent council tax increase, along with a 2 per cent increase to the adult social care precept.

“At present we receive £75m less in Government funding than an average London borough and £13.7m less than an average county council,” said council leader Cllr Steve Count. “If the funding formula was fair, we wouldn’t have to talk about these increases.

“We are the third-lowest funded county council in the country.”

He said there have been “greater pressures” in adult social care – in January 2017 there were 100 hospital contacts per week and this rose to 150 a week in December.

“Despite these pressures, we will continue to use our resources to the absolute maximum to support the NHS as we explore a wide range of opportunities for more integrated, collaborative and effective working across health and social care services.”

Liberal Democrat leader Cllr Lucy Nethsingha welcomed the Tories’ decision to go for the highest increases allowed, but said funds should be used rather than put in a “smoothing reserve”, which is what the Tories are proposing.

She said: “It’s a great relief that they have made this decision, although it’s a tragedy that they didn’t do it last year. As a result we have now lost half of our children’s services.

“Instead of having reserves, they should be using it to help the NHS handle the crisis it’s facing, to fix our roads, support our children’s centres and subsidise bus services.”

Cllr Count said: “At the moment the most sensible thing to do is give our coffers a bit of buffer room.

“The other groups are prepared to tax and spend and they are not looking at years three, four and five.”

He said that there are only two more years of adult social care precept and beyond that there’s little clarity as to how much funding the council will get.

“We recognise that for some, this increase will be difficult and unwelcome news. We are ready to support residents who may need help to ensure they are receiving any financial support that may be available to them,” Cllr Count concluded.


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