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Group of Cornwall councillors ask for 6 per cent council tax rise
11:20am Monday 30th September 2013 in News
A number of Cornwall councillors are asking the authority to consider a six per cent council tax rise next year.
Cornwall Council says it has to save £23.9 million next year (based on a 1.97 per cent tax rise) in addition to cuts previously made or agreed. Adding that this is due to increasing demand for key statutory services such as adult care, an additional one per cent cut imposed by the government and a pay award one per cent agreed for our staff.
However Cllr Alex Folkes, the cabinet member for finance and resources said he wouldnot be backing the plan.
He said: "People cannot afford to pay. Although the economy is showing some signs of recovery, we are still a long way off the position we were in before the banking crisis. Most people have seen their pay frozen or have received only tiny rises in recent years. And we have seen for ourselves that many people are already finding it very difficult to pay their council tax.
"This includes the 19,000 or so households who were previously judged to be so poor that they got 100 per cent council tax relief. They now have to pay at least 25 per cent of the bills and many of them cannot. Thousands of people, not all from those paying for the first time, are facing court action because they have not paid. I think it is wrong to seek to impose a tax rise above inflation on Cornwall. It will result in increased hardship and lead to more people being dragged into the court process.
The move would also require a costly referendum as the government requires that any proposal for a council tax rise above two per cent must be approved by the people of Cornwall, with Mr Folkes saying: "I simply do not believe that such a referendum is winnable."
The referendum would cost about £920,000, money that would be spent elsewhere and if lost then the council will be forced into emergency cuts and to re-bill everyone at a cost of more than £100,000.
Mr Folkes added: "Although those who are advocating this course understand this well enough, I believe most people who are not well versed in local government finance will think that a referendum and an increase above inflation will mean there will be few or no cuts if it goes through. But whilst a high council tax rise would mean less savings would be needed, the truth is that instead of the £23.9 million of savings needed by a 1.97 per cent rise, we would still need to make about £16 million of cuts once the costs of the referendum are accounted for.
"In my view, the logical alternative would be to put forward an option of a council tax rise which would require no cuts at all. But that would be a rise of about 19 per cent or £240 on a band D council tax bill and I think that has even less chance of winning referendum approval."
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