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Lincoln council tax 1.8% increase proposed

The City of Lincoln Council’s Executive committee has agreed to consult on proposals regarding a 1.8% council tax increase.

This would equate to an increase of around 6p per week for about four in every five City Council properties.

A public consultation will run from January 28 until March 3, and local businesses will be consulted at a business breakfast on February 12. Full council will make a final decision on March 4.

Since the Spending Review in 2010, dramatic cuts from central government mean the council is operating with 41% less funding by 2015.

In addition, the council faces a number of local challenges such as a reduction in income received through planning fees, building control and local land charges as less house building takes place, and less interest on investment.

Meanwhile, demand for services such as housing benefit, homelessness and council housing continues to rise.

The Revenue Support Grant – the stream of funding on which councils have primarily relied – is continuing to reduce each year.

This year the city council will receive £3.79 million – an above national average decrease from last year of 13.7%. The national average reduction is 9.4%.

The government has offered a grant to councils which freeze their council tax, which would be equivalent to a rise of 1%.

However, accepting this would result in a loss of income over five years of around £320,000.

Of the total council tax bill sent to residents, only 16% of it is kept by the City Council.

The council has already decided to continue its existing council tax support scheme, so next year the most vulnerable residents will receive up to 100% of their council tax bill, despite a reduction in funding by central Government.

Council leader Ric Metcalfe said: “Just like many of our residents we are having to make tough choices as we battle against growing costs with a shrinking budget.

“Having already made significant cuts and changes it is becoming increasingly difficult to balance the books.

“In the face of local challenges and pressures from national Government we are committed to providing high quality frontline services. Unfortunately this means we have to consider a rise in council tax.

“We know many people will not begrudge paying a few pence extra to maintain the quality and range of services they need.”

He added: “This council has seen dramatic cuts in income from government grants with further cuts forecast until at least 2018, possibly longer.

“The Government’s spending cuts have left us with no alternative but to make cuts of our own. Where possible we have found savings within the council, but there is only so much we can do before frontline services are affected.

“We are proposing to freeze the cost of parking at city council car parks next year, with the aim of helping hard hit residents, commuters and visitors, and hopefully encouraging people to continue visiting our city.”

The proposals come after Lincolnshire’s PCC, Alan Harwick, announced a possible rise in the council tax given to Lincolnshire Police.

Meanwhile, Lincolnshire County Council has already decided to freeze its share of council tax for another year.

Any comments can be emailed to resources@lincoln.gov.uk, or write to: Director of Resources, City Hall, Beaumont Fee, Lincoln LN1 1DB.