Cheshire East is set to raise its Council Tax by 3.75 per cent in order to invest in vital frontline services for residents.
A substantial part of the tax rise will boost services for the vulnerable elderly and young.
The Council tax increase on a Band D property will mean an increase of £45.61 per year from £1,216.34 to £1,261.95, which equates to just 88 pence per week.
The authority is re-assuring its 370,000 residents that its economy remains strong and vital front-line services will continue to be protected despite the toughest financial challenges the Council has faced in its seven-year history.
A greater than expected reduction in central Government grant has left the Council with little option but to introduce the first increase in five years. But it remains lower than many other authorities.
Councillor Peter Groves, Cabinet member in charge of finance, said: “This Council is proud to have maintained a zero tax increase for five years. It is to be regretted that our excellent record has come to an end.
“This increase is required due to the change in national policy to shift the burden of funding from central to local taxation.
“Strong leadership and sound financial management have helped to offset higher costs but in time we will have to become even more resourceful in the way we deliver services, achieve our economies and minimise any future rate rises.
“The public sector must play its part to help reduce the high level of national debt and Cheshire East has responded to the challenge through a strategy of innovation and creativity with a relentless pursuit of greater efficiency and productivity.”
A cut of more than £16m in government grant in 2016-17 alone – far more than anticipated – has placed substantial strains on the authority’s purse strings.
But through strong financial management, the Council is able to keep its proposed tax rise to 3.75 per cent. This includes the Government’s allowance of two per cent to fund adult social care pressures.
Many other authorities are asking their residents to meet a greater increase.
The Council recognises residents want to see less bureaucracy and its innovative local delivery business models such as Ansa and Orbitas achieve a high level of sustainable, quality services at lower overall cost.
Value for money, rather than cheapest price, is the fundamental principle behind the 500-plus local services the Council delivers for its residents.
Cllr David Brown, Deputy Leader of Cheshire East Council, said: “I congratulate our finance team on developing a robust budget in very challenging circumstances.
“This Council has never faced this situation before but, due to the effective way we have delivered services in recent years, we are in a far stronger position than many other authorities.
“I hope our residents will understand our position and recognise that, as a Council, we continue to deliver excellent value for money.
“While our increase is 3.75 per cent, some local authorities are increasing their council tax by 3.99 per cent with the prospect of the same level of increase each year for five years.”
A proactive, robust approach to economic development is shaping the future prosperity of the Borough so that the aspirations of residents, families and children can be realised.
Major infrastructure projects such as new road schemes contribute to this through improved connectivity.
In Cheshire East, unemployment is at its lowest for more than 10 years and the local business economy and private sector investment continue to expand.
Ofsted has ranked 92.1 per cent of the Borough’s schools good or excellent, placing Cheshire East second in the country.
The Council’s newly-created skills and growth company will lay the foundations for a highly-skilled workforce locally to meet the future competitive needs of business and industry.
Delivering a low-cost energy scheme through Ovo, Fairerpower has helped residents to save more than £1m in less than a year. More than 4,000 residents have signed up to the low-tariff scheme, which has helped to shake up the market and address fuel poverty.
Better recycling performances help to cut landfill costs, while the success of the Council’s innovative ‘best fit’ business model has delivered significant savings for the long-term benefit of residents.
The Council will enhance customer choice through improved digital technology, while the roll-out of superfast broadband continues apace.
These policies and innovations – embedded in the Council’s core strategy – help to make Cheshire East an attractive place to live, learn, work and do business. They ensure better value for money for local taxpayers.
Cheshire East intends to meet its commitments as a ‘residents first’ and listening authority and Cabinet will be asked to recommend the increase to Council at its next meeting on February 25.
For further information about the Council’s budget proposals go to http://moderngov.cheshireeast.gov.uk/ecminutes/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=241&MId=5685