Have your say on Leicestershire County Council’s new budget plans

The study is being launched as taxpayers in Harborough are set to face a three per cent rise in their Council Tax bills from next April

Friday, 17th December 2021, 12:19 pm
Updated Friday, 17th December 2021, 12:20 pm
You are being urged to have your say on cash-strapped Leicestershire County Council’s new budget plans in a major new public consultation.

You are being urged to have your say on cash-strapped Leicestershire County Council’s new budget plans in a major new public consultation.

Residents, businesses, district and parish councils, as well as partner organisations, can give their views by completing a short survey at: https://www.leicestershire.gov.uk/have-your-say/current-engagement/budget-proposals-2022-26The huge study is being launched as taxpayers in Harborough are set to face a three per cent rise in their Council Tax bills from next April.

The hard-up authority is battling to balance the books after being hammered by the Covid pandemic.

That means that people in a band D property in Harborough would have to shell out another £42.30 to the county council in 2022-2023.

The council’s proposals set out plans for the next financial year but also looks forward to 2025/26.

Extra funding available to the council from Government due to Covid-19 pressures “is not enough to help cope with the level of service growth”, warned the county council.

“That, along with the continuing impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, has led to additional costs in adults and children’s social care, means the authority is left in an extremely challenging financial position.”

The council’s medium-term financial strategy (MTFS) sets out the need to save £100 million by 2025/26 - with more than £46 million of that sum yet to be identified.

The council is proposing a 3 per cent hike in its Council Tax precept from April 2022 - including a one per cent rise to contribute to adult social care costs.

Cllr Lee Breckon, the authority’s lead member for finance and resources, said: “We have faced significant financial challenges for more than a decade now, dealing first with austerity and then the severe impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Throughout this uncertain period we have managed taxpayers’ money prudently, making savings to see off potential financial crises, reduced our debt while protecting the frontline services we know really matter to the people of Leicestershire.

“But our situation remains hugely difficult.

“And again we are in a position where we have to consider raising council tax to not only maintain those vital services – including adult and children’s social care to look after the most vulnerable among us - but also to tackle unprecedented rising demand for them,” said Cllr Breckon.

“We can balance our books in the next financial year but there after the gap between the council’s income and what we will have to spend becomes increasingly difficult to manage.

“However, we are not sitting and waiting for the worst-case scenario to engulf us.

“We are working to fix the broken system of local government financing, which unfairly places us among the lowest-funded councils in England,” said Cllr Breckon.

“We have led on the establishment of the new F20 group, a cross-party grouping of the lowest funded councils in England, to lobby the Government for a short-term fix which would see £300 million shared among them.

“In the longer term, we are working with the Government for a County Deal to bring greater devolved powers to Leicestershire and give us the funding to make our own decisions on local matters.

“Please take some time to tell us what you think of our budget plans because what you say helps us make important decisions affecting all the people and businesses in the county.”

The consultation runs until Sunday January 16.