City Council to increase its share of council tax

The City of Lincoln Council will increase its share of council tax by 1.9%, leading to an increase of six or seven pence per week for 80% of the city homes.

The increase was approved at a full council meeting on March 5.

People living in Lincoln pay around £3.09 per week for all the City of Lincoln Council services. The proposed increases would see Band A households’ charge increase from £157.50 to £160.50 per year and Band B from £183.75 to £187.25.

An increase of 2% or more would necessitate a referendum before it could be approved, which would cost £80,000 to be organised.

Lincolnshire County Council agreed to freeze its share of council tax for the third consecutive year, while Lincolnshire Police will increase its share by 2%.

Dealing with cuts

The proposed increase follows a review of all City of Lincoln Council spending, which has to find more than £1 million in annual savings in 2013/14 and a further £2 million annual savings by 2016/17.

Due to this, the council will introduce charges for green bin collections, withdraw funding from certain projects, restructure departments and remove eight jobs.

Since 2010 the council has seen income from government grants reduced by 24%, with further cuts of 16% forecast over the next two years. During that time the City Council has not increased its charge to council tax payers.

Previous grants available from the government to freeze council tax have provided funding equivalent to a 2.5% increase. The grant now available to freeze council tax in 2013/14 compensates councils for an equivalent increase of only 1% and this funding is only short-term available for a period of two years.

Acceptance of the grant by the council would result in an annual loss of income of £250,000, due to the short-term nature of the funding available. This would ultimately mean that the council would have to generate further savings above the £3 million already planned.

Toughest cuts yet

City Council Leader Ric Metcalfe said: “”We simply cannot continue to cut spending in the face of continued reduction in government funding and provide the people of Lincoln with the services they deserve.

““Even with this small increase in council tax we have had to make difficult decisions that will impact on some services and those who deliver them.”

““These are without doubt the toughest cuts we have faced so far as a council.

““We have to look closely at every single service we offer but what I can say is that the services we will continue to deliver will be provided at the highest quality we can achieve.”

““Taking into account inflation, a 1.9% increase is actually a cut in real terms. It’s clear that many councils, including some Conservative authorities, agree with us in saying ‘enough is enough’.

““We believe that this is the right decision and one which gives us the best chance of protecting vital services.””

If the council approves the increase it will be among more than 40% of authorities in England choosing to do so according to a report this week from the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy.