Council tax to rise amid uncertainty

South Holland District Council is to put its share of the council tax up by around £5 a year while looking to make £4.4m worth of savings in the next four years.

The increasing cost of housing the homeless and a decrease in fees raised by planning applications amount to £670,000 of the £872,000 deficit the council is looking to make up in the next financial year.

Business Rates were also £451,000 down this financial year on what the authority expected.

And what’s been described as ‘unprecedented’ uncertainty over funding for local government is among the reasons cited to look to budget to save £4.4m in the years up until March 2024.

The council says in its Budget and Mid-Term Financial Strategy that is has it set an ‘Initial Savings Efficiency Target’ of £872,000 for 2020/21 but that £277,000 has already been saved and £251,000 further identified leaving a shortfall of £344,000 worth of savings still to be identified.

It continues that more than £1m would need to be found in each of the three years after.

But Samantha Knowles the authority’s strategic finance and compliance manager, told The Voice the council’s unsure what funding it will receive from central government following the general election.

“The level of uncertainty 21/22 onwards is unprecedented,” she said

“There’s so much change happening at a national level.

“We refer to our technical advisors and even they are unable to provide us security so we’ve gone on what we call a prudent provision from 21/22 onwards.

SHDC’s Peter Coupland, said: “So much can change. Next year it could even be better if the government come up with the right incentives.”

He told the authority’s cabinet: “Despite these significant challenges being felt by us and others nationally we are continuing to invest in services.

“The Pride team of two dedicated street teams has been made a permanent feature so it can continue improving and enhancing the environment of our rural area, villages and towns.

“There will be continued investment in our waste collection service to maintain weekly collections, one of only a few in the country still to do so.

“We will be building more commercial units to help smaller businesses establish themselves and grow within the district and we have established the community reserve and commenced a Market Town initiative for Holbeach and Spalding.

“In addition SHDC will be building on the huge success story of housing completions in 2019/20.”

The MTFS outlines that SHDC hopes to spend over £16m on its Housing Revenue Account.

It also allows for a two per cent pay increase year on year for council staff with its employee related expenditure set to be £9.3m in this financial year.

The cost of services in 2020/21 would be £14.1m.

The district council’s share of the council will rise by 2.83 per cent and will cost the average band D householder £4.95 per year in the next financial year (from April 2020) from £174.78 to £179.73 and also assumes an annual ongoing increase of two per cent a year to 2024.

SHDC will also give around £2.4m (half the council tax it raises) to the local drainage boards with South Holland Internal Drainage Board increasing its share by five per cent and the others in the area by 2 per cent.

Lincolnshire County Council last week announced it would raise its share of the council tax by 3.5 per cent which equates to £45.80 a year for a Band D property.

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