Sutton Bridge residents warned over council tax rise risk

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Council tax payers in Sutton Bridge could face an average rise of £20 on their bills to plug a £65 million budget gap if county council proposals are approved.

Lincolnshire County Council leaders will meet today to decide whether to raise council tax by almost two per cent – the first such increase in four years.

A final decision will be made by the full council next month, while district council chiefs have pledged to cut their portion of council tax despite reductions to their funding.

The county authority’s proposal comes following confirmation from the Government that its contribution towards schools, libraries and other public services in Lincolnshire will fall by almost £33.6 million in 2015-16.

County council leader Martin Hill said: “As expected, we’ve had another tough settlement from the Government and this comes on top of increased costs, much of which relates to the care of elderly people.

“Overall, this has left a gap of around £65 million in our budget for the coming year, although we’ve already found £30 million worth of savings and are planning to use £33 million of our reserves to help balance the books.

“However, like many county councils, we’re also recommending a small increase of 1.9 per cent in council tax to make up the shortfall.”

“This will add £20 a year on a band D property - the first rise in four years - but it still means that our council tax will remain the third lowest for a county council in the country.”

Meanwhile, South Holland District Council is promising to cut its share of council tax bills despite having about £1 million less to spend next year on services such as waste collection, street lighting and playing fields.

District council leader Gary Porter said: “It’s disappointing that the Government grant has been cut by this amount.

“However, we’re determined to defend our residents and ensure this cut isn’t passed on to them which is why they will see a reduction in the council tax they pay for a fourth successive year.”

Norfolk County Council leaders have also warned there may need to be a council tax rise in order to maintain services during the continuing squeeze on funding.

But, following last month’s announcement of the grant from central government, West Norfolk Council officials indicated the borough had done slightly better than they expected, though that view was disputed by opposition members, who claim the borough was among the areas worst affected by the government’s funding allocations.

Councils can raise council tax by a maximum of two per cent. Plans for larger increases can only be passed through a referendum.