— Updated on Wednesday, March 7 @ 9.05am with further details
Council tax payers in Lincoln will see an increase of 0.48% in their bills from April, despite the City of Lincoln Council agreeing on a freeze for its share of the tax at a Full Council meeting on Tuesday evening.
The increase is due to Lincolnshire Police Authority agreeing to rise its share of the tax to 3.97% from April.
While this means an extra 4 pence per week — £7.11 per year — for band D households, the City Council and County Council will freeze their tax at 0%.
This accounts for a 2.5% percent increase in tax which is covered by a one-off government grant.
Although the City Council collects council tax on behalf of the County Council and the police, it only retains around 16% of the total amount received.
For example, a band D property in Lincoln will receive a bill for £1,488.33, but the City Council will keep only £236.25 of that; £1,065.69 will go to Lincolnshire County Council and the Lincolnshire Police Authority will receive £186.39.
Around 80% of properties in Lincoln are either band A or band B, which will receive total bills of £992.22 and £1,157.59 respectively. Of this amount, £157.50 for a band A property and £183.75 for a band B property will go to the City Council.
Funds needed for effective policing
The rise in the Police Authority’s share in tax reflects the police’s current budget cuts, which has already seen it outsource a £200 million contract to G4S.
Police Authority Chairman Barry Young explained that while it was a difficult decision to make, it also ensures the county still receives effective policing.
At present, council tax is frozen at 0%, and if the authorities choose to raise their tax shares by up to 2.5%, it is accounted for in a grant rather than on the taxpayer.
By accepting just 2.5% in a rise however, Young believes this could lead to funding shortfalls in the long-term, which could cause loss of officers and staff.
He said: “The Authority had a stark choice: either raise the level of our precept or lose more police officers.
“We were told by the government to cut £20 million from our budget by 2014. Without an increase in the policing element of the council tax, a budget reduction of that size would inevitably mean a reduction in the standard of policing.
“We are not willing to jeopardise the effectiveness of what is already the leanest, most cost-effective Force in the country.”
‘Every penny counts’
Councillor Ric Metcalfe, Leader of the City of Lincoln Council, said: “We have chosen to freeze council tax because we know every penny counts for our residents during these tough times.
“However, as this is a one-off grant we know councils up and down the country will have a very difficult decision to make next year to try and plug the funding gap, when direct financial support from the government is in decline.
“It’s worth remembering that the money we receive from council tax pays for essential services that people depend on, such as bin collections, street cleansing, leisure facilities, toilet facilities and benefits advice.
“We are committed to supporting our pensioners and families who may be entitled to support with paying their council tax bill so we would urge them to get in touch with our Customer Services Team who will be delighted to help.”