Date Published: 07 January 2021
Rutland County’s Cabinet is to consider the Council’s 2021/22 Budget following a lower-than-expected financial support provided through the Local Government Settlement, lower income and higher costs.
Rutland County Council is required to set a budget and agree the level of Council Tax for 2021/22 in the context of a balanced Medium Term Financial Plan and the Local Government Settlement that is provided by the Government each year.
This year’s Settlement gives the Council less core Government funding than in 2020/21, despite the promise of ‘new funding’. To compensate for this, Government expects the Council to raise Council Tax by up to 5% in the current year.
The draft 2021/22 revenue budget therefore relies on the Council increasing Council Tax by 2.99% and using £2.6m from its reserves to balance the Budget.
Cabinet Members will consider the recommendations and whether the draft budget can be put out for consultation with residents and businesses at the Cabinet meeting on 12th January 2021.
“Rutland County Council is an efficient authority spending less per head on services compared to other similar Unitary authorities, while at the same time being recognised as best in class for adult social services, in the top 25 authorities for recycling waste in England and with better maintained roads than our larger neighbouring authorities.
The recommendation to Cabinet will be to keep the increase in Council Tax just to a 2.99% increase. This will still leave a deficit of over £2.6m, which will need to be addressed by reducing costs. This, in turn, will mean changes in the way we operate and some reductions in services over the next year.
We do not feel that it is fair of Government to expect Rutland to increase Council Tax by 5%. Our levels of Tax are already amongst the highest in England and we are an efficient authority.” Councillor Gordon Brown, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Finance
Rutland County Council is lobbying Government to increase the amount of Local Government Settlement provided to Rutland County Council and funding provided to council’s nationally.
“We have made it clear to our local MP and Government that the expectation of large increases of Council Tax is not sustainable as it will make Rutland a less affordable place to live, especially for young families living and working in our community.
Government continues to spend less on council services each year, while expecting Taxpayers to fill this gap. It is not realistic, and we are backing the Local Government Association’s call for Government to add an extra £5bn to council funding nationally so we can continue to meet the needs of residents. We have also identified that there are only 19 unitary authorities in England which have Council Tax contributions in excess of 70% of their spending power and also have a tariff on their business rate retention. We are therefore asking Government to remove this tariff to increase the amount of funds available to support the delivery of essential services.” Cllr Brown continued
The Covid-19 pandemic has decreased the Council’s income during 2020/21. Some short-term extensions have had to be made, due to the Pandemic, to contracts, such as the waste collection and grounds maintenance contracts.
The Council must also fund a long-term programme to fell trees in the county as they become affected by Ash Dieback, which is an expense that has to be undertaken to ensure the safety of the County’s highways.
Rutland County Council will meet virtually at 10.00am on 12 January 2021. Papers and details of how to observe the meeting can be found on the Rutland County Council website: www.rutland.gov.uk/meetings.