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Council Tax Frozen again

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Council Tax has been frozen for the second year running, "“The council has responded well to the difficult settlements of recent years and has managed shrinking budgets by transforming rather than cutting front line services."

 

 Unfortunately for us it is Wigan.

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and yet WBC raise ours every year without fail and just under the threshold limit that would trigger a local referendum..... despite all the new houses that have come on line and all the additional revenue that generates in poll tax,,,,

 

But of course they will continue to raise the tax every year because they wouldn't want us to get used to not being fleeced 

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It is going up by 1.9% from last year 

 

Between 2009 - 2011 it went up by 6.4%

 

In 2012 a band E property had a rate of £1,681

in 2013-2014 it was 1712.68

2014-2015 it is £1,742.89

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You can't easily compare Council Tax between different Local Authorities, as the total bill is made up of the precepts set by the Council, Police, Fire and Parish (where applicable). The size of the Council is also important, since the rise and any accepted 'freeze grant' is a % of a different sum, e.g. Wigan's total Council Tax income was ~£100m, compared to ~£74m for Warrington. The simplest comparison is by the Council precepts - you can see from the list below that actually Warrington's Council Tax precept for 2014/15 compared favourably with our neighbouring Local Authorities.

 

Council Precepts, 2014/15 - Band E

 

Trafford                               £1,361.03

Manchester                         £1,432.77

Halton                                 £1,444.13

Warrington                          £1,444.78

St. Helens                           £1,454.05

Wigan                                 £1,457.06

Cheshire East                     £1,486.64

Cheshire West & Chester   £1,558.61

Salford                                £1,621.05

Stockport                            £1,707.51

 

In the initial years after 2010, the Council accepted the Government's "freeze grant", but it is only ever made as a single year offer and it no longer makes financial sense to take it, especially given the £77m of savings/cuts made over the same period.

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You answered a question that nobody asked.

 

The only comparison being made and quite easily is that Wigan haven't raised Council Tax whereas Warrington have.

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It is entirely relevant. The Government offers funding equivalent to 1% of the total Council Tax through the "freeze grant". The decision taken is going to depend on the total level of Council Tax income, what proportion this makes of the total revenue budget and what that 1% grant equates to in absolute cash terms, all set against the total amount of cuts required. That is why I put the total income figures for Wigan and Warrington as well as the different levels of precept. Any Council's decision on Council Tax is dependent on their own circumstances and you shouldn't compare the two. Warrington still has one of the lowest precepts in the North West.

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You compare the level of Council Tax at band E as being favourable to nearby Halton, but wouldn't it be fair to say that the number of Band E properties in Warrington far outweigh the number in Halton even taking into consideration the difference in population.

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wolfie - You are right.  Councils often talk about the number of "Band D equivalents" - that is because all of the other rates are directly related to Band D, e.g. Band E is set at 11/9 of Band D.  I used the Band E rates to link directly with Bazj's data, but in practice it doesn't matter which bands you compare.  The split of properties in each Band is of course important in terms of the overall income from Council Tax.  Some Councils do have very high numbers of Band A & B - I think Oldham is >70% for example, not sure of the data for Halton.

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1.98%  is too low an increase Cllr Russ Bowden, I would prefer 2.1%.  Any particular reason why you are only going for 1.98%? nothing to do with referendum thresholds is it? Wouldn't want to involve democracy in this decision would we?

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The elected hate democracy PJ...... especially just after they have been elected but become slightly more amenable to it just before an election....

 

I think Faisal; one of the Labour councillors from Westbrook must himself be or he must employ someone who could leave Usain Bolt for dead.... had a leaflet shoved through the door the other day and by the time I got to the door (about 8 seconds later) he had vanished 

 

Nothing like engaging the electorate!

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Clr Bowden Have neighbouring  Halton and Warrington always been on par with their precipts in previous years too ?

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PJ - The proposed Council Tax rise will yield about £1.5m, which still leaves £15.5m of savings/cuts that have to be made next year. All of the major preceptors (WBC, Cheshire Police, Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service) are proposing precept increases of the same order, because they are all having their Government funding cut by far more. It doesn't matter about party political allegiance - the Police & Crime Commissioner is a Tory and also complaining about funding cuts. Obs has got it spot on - rocks and hard places.

 

Bazj - I am always up for discussion - check out https://www.warrington.gov.uk/strong or #strongwarrington on the Budget consultation.

 

Dizzy - I don't know off the top of my head, so I will find out. The introduction of the referendum limit means that it can't have changed very much (if at all) since 2010.

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but if you are having to save £15m in cuts; that will inevitably come from those that can ill afford to lose services, why the hell is the council spending millions tarting up Bridge Street? Why not wait until there are a few more coppers in the coffers? and then there is this deal with GGHT and Helena; borrowing money to lend to someone else.... (a bit like that advert on the telly for Amigo loans)...

 

there is yet more housing coming on stream this year and more next, so that is extra income for you. 

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PJ - The proposed Council Tax rise will yield about £1.5m, which still leaves £15.5m of savings/cuts that have to be made next year. All of the major preceptors (WBC, Cheshire Police, Cheshire Fire & Rescue Service) are proposing precept increases of the same order, because they are all having their Government funding cut by far more. It doesn't matter about party political allegiance - the Police & Crime Commissioner is a Tory and also complaining about funding cuts. Obs has got it spot on - rocks and hard places.

 

 

So, if it only raises 1 tenth of what you need to cover the cuts ( and for the love of all thats Holy stop referring to it as savings) why did you set the increase at 1.98%  Are you so terrified to go to the people who put you where you are to represent them?

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As at 31st March 2014 there was £11,860,000 uncollected Council Tax, collecting that would save us from quite a few increases.

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Bazj - Financing Bridge Street is from capital borrowing, with the income & savings over the lifetime justifiying that commitment, let alone the benefit to the local economy. The capital budget is separate from the revenue budget that pays for services, accepting that the cost of borrowing does have to be funded from revenue. Capital funding (like Bridge Street) can only be used for the development or improvement of an asset - it cant be used to fund services.

 

PJ - Message understood about cuts/savings. The £15.5m for next year is due to Government funding cuts, increased demand on (and therefore underfunded) services and being given more responsibility but no money to deliver. By 2018/19, we expect WBC to be effectively self-sufficient, in that Government funding through the Revenue Support Grant will be nil, leaving us with Council Tax, Business Rates (or at least the 27% that we are allowed to keep currently) and fees & charges. Something will then have to give - either proper financial devolution or else putting those kind of questions to residents that value and rely on the services provided. I am not remotely worried about having to ask that question if and when the time comes.

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