Council tax set to rise

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Council tax payers will be hit by a substantial price rise this year, as hard-pressed local authorities look to offset getting less money from the Government by taking more money directly from the public.

The council tax bill posted through local letter boxes in the spring will probably contain four different price rises – from Harborough District Council, Leicestershire County Council, and from the police and fire authorities, both of whom now set their own budgets.

Harborough District Council, which takes in Market Harborough and Lutterworth, says it wants to put up its share of the council tax by 3.12 per cent.

However, the biggest price rise is likely to be from Leicestershire County Council - responsible for more than two-thirds of your council tax bill.

The county council wants to put its share of the bill up by at least four, and possibly, five per cent.

Meanwhile Leicestershire’s Police and Crime Commissioner Lord Willy Bach has already warned that he is considering an increase of up to two per cent - the details won’t be confirmed until a Police and Crime Panel meeting on February 7.

And there could be a similar rise from the fire authority – again to be confirmed in a February meeting.

If all four price rises go ahead, it could mean a rise in council tax for a band D tax payer of around £60 or 3.8 per cent in 2017/18.

Harborough District Council says its proposed rise is the first for seven years, and points out it is facing a £750,000 reduction in central Government 
funding.

Cllr Phil King, deputy leader and finance portfolio holder for the council, said: “Our proposed budget is a proactive response to the challenges of reduced Government funding and allows us to continue to provide services which are valued by the public.”

The county council has been particularly challenged by government cuts, and is now facing up to 400 fresh job losses.

The council’s deputy leader, Councillor Byron Rhodes, said: “We’ve saved £161 million since austerity started but we need to save a further £68 million. We have proposals to cover £44 million of this but that leaves a £24 million gap, so we’ll have to explore new ideas.”

At the Police Authority. Police Commissioner Willy Bach has already told the Mail he will be looking for extra money through the council tax. He said: “The brutal truth is there are too few police officers, not just in Market Harborough, but in the whole of Leicestershire.”

And the Combined Fire Authority agreed last year, in a three year budget strategy, to increase council tax up to the referendum limit of two per cent a year to offset reductions in its own revenue support grant.