People in Harborough face another Council Tax hike as hard-up Leicestershire County Council meets tomorrow (Wednesday)

Tens of thousands of taxpayers are facing a three per cent rise in their bills from April as the authority battles to balance its books following the Covid pandemic

By Red Williams
Tuesday, 22nd February 2022, 5:18 pm
Leicestershire County Council
Leicestershire County Council

People in Harborough face being hit by another Council Tax hike as hard-up Leicestershire County Council meets to hammer out its budget tomorrow (Wednesday).

Tens of thousands of taxpayers are facing a three per cent rise in their bills from April as the authority battles to balance its books following the Covid pandemic.

As a result people in a band D property in Harborough will have to shell out an extra £42.30 to the county council in 2022-2023.

That will be on top of another £5 they’ll have to pay out in Council Tax to struggling Harborough District Council as well.

The county council is striving to seal its medium term financial strategy (MTFS).

The authority is battling to manage the rising costs of caring for vulnerable children and adults as it deals with increasing costs across services and on multi-million pound capital projects to support the county’s growing population and economy.

The planned three per cent Council Tax rise will help fund other key services such as children's social care, public health, transport, education, planning, road maintenance, libraries, waste management and trading standards.

Today Cllr Lee Breckon, the Cabinet lead member for resources, said: “The money we will receive from the Government in the coming financial year was better than anticipated but significant risks remain.

“Our proposed budget will balance the books next year but we still face a gap between our income and what we will need to spend of £39 million by 2026.

“Our financial strategy is prudent and deliverable though we will still need to make significant savings and that will require difficult decisions.”

Cllr Breckon added: “It is recognised many residents will be having a hard time with the rising cost of living.

“We ask for more council tax with great reluctance and we will need to repay residents by delivering those essential services efficiently and effectively.”

The council is facing growing pressure to bankroll both children’s and adult social care amid rising demand in the number of vulnerable older and young people who need looking after.

And the cost of the care they need is rising almost day by day.

Overall social care costs are expected to soar by £88 million over the next four years with a big chunk of that needed to pay the national minimum wage.

“There is also a large deficit of £63 million predicted by 2026 in paying for the education of children with special educational needs and disabilities (SEND).

“More than half a billion pounds is also to be spent on major capital schemes between now and 2026 to provide for essential infrastructure – such as new roads and schools – to meet the demands of the county’s growing population and economy,” said the county council.

“The popular Shire Grants scheme is being boosted with an additional £150,000 to make up a £600,000 pot available annually to communities to bid in to for projects that will make a real difference for Leicestershire’s residents.”

The council is still targeting planting 700,000 trees across the county – one for every resident.

The medium term financial strategy pumps in £100,000 to developing a tree nursery to grow saplings in an attempt to make both Harborough and Leicestershire cleaner and greener.

Some £50,000 is also being set aside to enable the cost of road closures to be waived for communities and groups planning street parties to celebrate the Queens’s Platinum Jubilee in June.

“This budget will provide protection for vulnerable children and adults and builds on the Covid support we’ve provided over the past years and will continue to support.

“It delivers the lowest rise in the precept in recent years,” said Cllr Breckon.

“Although we can balance the books this year, we will continue our campaign to get a better funding deal from government - and this includes working with the cross-party F20 group of the lowest-funded councils in England to achieve this aim.”

The benchmark budget meeting will be streamed live from 2pm tomorrow on: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCWFpwBLs6MnUzG0WjejrQtQ