Council tax set to rise 4.99% in bid to save £100m

Cheshire East Council, along with other local authorities, is facing difficult financial challenges over the next three years, having to offset the loss of more than £40m in government grants combined with inflation and additional service demands, including the needs of a growing ageing population.

The financial impact of this will require the council to find £100m to balance its books between 2017 and 2020.

In order to achieve this, the council's cabinet will be asking full council to approve the medium term financial strategy when it meets in February. It will also be asked to approve a proposed council tax increase of 4.99 per cent, three per cent of which will go directly towards adult social care.

The increase equates to a £1.21 per week rise on an average Band D property.

This would leave the council to find economies of a further £49m through changes and efficiencies within the 500 services it delivers to residents each day.

Introducing the council's annual corporate plan, which sets out the objectives and planned outcomes, council leader Rachel Bailey said: "This corporate plan for 2017 to 2020 highlights how the council is striving to create sustainable growth in the local economy that will support the health and economic wellbeing of our residents.

"We will continue to provide the right environment for our local population to develop their skills, which will help them to secure meaningful long-term employment as well as supporting our local businesses.

"In addition, we will maintain a focus on the 'quality of place' in the borough, which will enable our economy to grow and help our local residents to access employment, education and leisure opportunities.

"This is why the medium term financial strategy proposes a capital programme of more than £300m over the next three years so that we can continue to invest in essential infrastructure, education and regeneration of our towns and villages.

"Furthermore, we will also ensure that the countryside and open spaces in Cheshire East are managed prudently and provide good quality frontline services, such as highways, waste collection and street cleansing, to ensure that the quality of the environment in the borough is maintained."

Councillor Peter Groves, cabinet member for finance, said: "We will continue to create the right conditions for economic growth and prosperity for all, investing in people, social care and education.

"The costs associated with maintaining this level of quality in our services and our environment, are becoming increasingly challenging as national austerity measures continue to put pressure on local government, and as the costs of the health system continue to put all public services under severe financial pressure.

"However, with one of the strongest economies in the country thanks to a vibrant mix of businesses, Cheshire East remains 'a great place to live, work and visit'.

The pre-budget consultation period ran between November 2016 and January 2017 and resulted in a record number of responses from residents, businesses and other stakeholders.

Click here for more information on Cheshire East Council's Corporate Plan and Medium Term Financial Strategy for the years 2017/18 to 2019/20.

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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Nick Jones
Tuesday 31st January 2017 at 5:11 pm
Have they no shame ?? CEC fiscal chicanery and their inverse understanding of mathematics [ already well documented on these and National press pages] its simply beyond contempt to the electorate. How much of our tax money have they already wasted ?? Co Socious , Lyme Green to name but a few, Never mind the ongoing law enforcement investigation to Corefit etc ... The biggest saving in merging East and West just never happens ! Perhaps some of these savings could be made closer to home by Rachel Bailey and her minions . The words ‘Prudent’ ‘Efficiency’ and ‘quality in our services’ are used again by CEC with the ‘Alternative Fact ‘ inverse logic meaning. Disgraceful
Alan Brough
Tuesday 31st January 2017 at 8:55 pm
Has anyone seen the results of the pre-budget consultation?
Julian Barlow
Wednesday 1st February 2017 at 4:39 pm
Hahaha, hilarious! CEC couldn't save money if they won the lottery and stuck the cash in a hermetically sealed biscuit tin. They've sold off huge swathes of land "to save money", restricted refuge collections "to save money", turned off the street lights "to save money" and now they're plundering the tax payer "to save money". Their jolly, money saving japes don't appear to extend to the whacking great payouts they award themselves which, paradoxically, seem to be directly linked to how much money they've managed to squander on ill conceived projects. Given the amount of "money saving" the council claim to do, it's about time that we, the tax payer, started to see the fruits of all this thrift.
Barry Stafford
Wednesday 1st February 2017 at 4:46 pm
Surely with the taxes from all the new houses built and being built,along with increased tax last year, plusnew business rates,council finances should be healthy. Think a case of a management clean out ,needed Baz
Laurie Atterbury
Wednesday 1st February 2017 at 4:47 pm
So, what other business saves money by just increasing prices; CEC are beyond contempt.
Also, why is it that just property owners have to fund social care; there are other wage earners and tax payers in Cheshire who don’t contribute to council tax; why does it have to be a burden on council tax payers? I object to paying the same council tax, for just my wife and I, to a similar house up the road with 5 or 6 income tax payers! Bring back poll tax so that the cost of social care can be funded by ALL tax payers.
Jackie Pass
Wednesday 1st February 2017 at 6:38 pm
Cheshire East "Media Hub" February 2015 http://bit.ly/2kTbHbF

So "Media Hub says no increase 2015/2016 and no increase 2016/17.

The reality - last year the rise was 1.8% + 2% for Fire + 3.2% for Police = 7% in total. Council told us that the rise was necessary on their apportionment to pay for Adult Social Care.

This year a rise of Council Tax of 4.99% to pay for Adult Social Care. My money is that police and fire will demand, and get, an increase too to take it to a 10% increase overall.

For all those who say, that the sum is small on a Band D - exactly how many Band D homes are there in Wilmslow?
James MacDonald
Wednesday 1st February 2017 at 11:05 pm
Most of the increase will probably go on topping up the pensions.
Terry Roeves
Thursday 2nd February 2017 at 9:02 am
Government will not give CEC £40million because they do not trust them to spend it wisely. Like so many other boroughs, they are out of control.
Sad that WTC cannot escape and act independently. A new party would definitely help accelerate change.
Oh, we have one! It's Residents of Wilmslow with CEC and WTC Cllrs. Out of little acorns .......
Bob Bracegirdle
Thursday 2nd February 2017 at 9:02 am
"What other business saves money by increasing prices?", says someone. Er, just about all of them that I deal with. Newspapers, confectioners, coffee shops etc etc
Drew Donaldson
Thursday 2nd February 2017 at 10:14 am
Can someone tell me (preferably a member of the council's finance committee) how much is sitting in the CEC reserve fund? My recollection is that it is in the hundreds of millions, though I've been known to be wrong when I am dragging things up from memory!

If I am correct, can they further explain why it is such a substantial amount and why they are not reducing the reserve fund instead?

Finally, what is the purpose of the reserve fund? CEC appear to increase the council tax to meet any additional costs (or savings as they call it).
Jonathan Follows
Thursday 2nd February 2017 at 10:32 am
The "pre-budget consultation" document, items 114 and 115 on page 93 (how many people got this far down before giving up?) includes "forecast increases in Domestic Rates" "compared to previous estimates already factored into base budgets" and "forecast increases in Business Rates" "due to net business additions in the area".

In other words, the latest budget not only includes provision for "taxes from all the new homes built and being built" but increases the estimate for the increase over the previous estimate, to a total of £6.3m over the period 2017-2020.

This amount is not the total increase in money collected, but a revised increase to the increase already catered for and "factored into base budgets".

If this revised estimate is not achieved, then there will be a further future shortfall in money collected which will have to be raised by other means, elsewhere I suggested that this might be through increases in parking charges which weren't otherwise planned and included in the latest budgets.
Chris Boothman
Sunday 5th February 2017 at 5:09 pm
This council just continues to insult our intelligence with its actions. Like some cheap sales pitch they pretend 4.99 is somehow a great deal, so much better than calling it 5, it's pathetic. There is something fundamentally wrong with this council and its budgeting.
Jonathan Follows
Monday 6th February 2017 at 9:12 am
I am no defender of Cheshire East Council and its ways, but I think it appropriate to observe that if it were to increase council tax by "5% or more" then it is required to hold a local referendum to approve the increase. The only time this has happened, (in Bedfordshire for the police in 2015-16 under similar rules), 69.5% of the voters opposed the proposed increase.

So the "4.99%" thing is really dictated by central government through the "Localism Act 2011". Whether or not an increase of 5% or greater would be approved through the referendum process is another matter, but clearly avoiding the requirement to hold one is a lower risk process for Cheshire East Council.

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