Home > My Council > Council News > Council Leader issues stark warning to Government as consultation begins on latest annual budget

Council Leader issues stark warning to Government as consultation begins on latest annual budget

Date Published: 19 January 2022
Rutland County Council

Councillor Oliver Hemsley, Leader of Rutland County Council, has warned that the government’s continued approach to funding local authorities is placing an unfair burden on Council Tax payers and must change.

Rutland County Council has launched a public consultation on its latest draft budget, which contains spending plans and Council Tax proposals for the year 2022/23. The Council publishes a draft budget at the start of every year, explaining how much money is needed to run local services, where this funding will come from and what financial pressures it is facing.          

The Council’s draft budget for 2022/23 allocates £42.3million to maintain local services over the next 12 months. This is the total yearly cost of everything from road maintenance and recycling to library services, fostering and adoption, bus travel, school transport and care for older people.

In addition to its spending plans for the year ahead, the Council’s draft budget includes proposals for a Council Tax rise of 1.99%, plus an Adult Social Care Precept of 3% which would be used specifically to fund adult social care services. Rules currently allow Rutland to raise Council Tax by as much as 5% without a local referendum.

If approved, the average increase in Council Tax for a Band D property in Rutland would be £1.75 per week, or 43p for anyone receiving benefits. The Council would also continue to provide an additional Council Tax discount of up to £100 for those on the lowest incomes.

Councillor Oliver Hemsley, Leader of Rutland County Council, said: “The way in which local councils are being funded by the government is not fair on Council Tax payers – particularly here in Rutland. It’s also unsustainable. Up until 2015, councils were given a special government grant to freeze Council Tax. Since its withdrawal, our core funding from central government has been significantly reduced. Instead of this funding, the government allows local authorities to raise Council Tax by as much as 5% each year to pay for services. They call this our ‘spending power’ but it relies on councils applying the biggest possible rise in Council Tax year on year. Even then, this is not enough to match the rising cost of delivering services like caring for adults and children. This is because more people need our help and the rising costs of suppliers throughout the sector are being passed onto councils.”

Councillor Hemsley continued: “Last year, Councillors voted to increase Council Tax by just 2.99% because we had some flexibility and understood the hardship that families were facing due to COVID-19.We then used more than £1m of our reserves to balance the budget. Since then, despite making huge savings to bring our costs down even further, we are predicting a £2.2million funding gap in Rutland by 2023/24. It is because of this relentless financial pressure that we have no flexibility this year. We have no choice but to propose raising Council Tax by the maximum level allowed.” 

The way that local councils are funded by national government places extra pressure on Rutland residents. This is because Rutland currently receives £331 less government funding per household than other councils with the same responsibilities. Less central government funding per household means that Rutland County Council must rely on Council Tax to fund local services. As a result, just over 80% of the Council’s funding comes from Council Tax contributions, compared to a national average of around 60% for other councils.

Councillor Hemsley added: “We are extremely lucky to have a new local MP who is committed to fighting for fairer funding for Rutland, but these problems are long in the making. Even this year, while the money we will receive from central government has increased, it is not enough to meet the rising cost of services. This is despite the fact that Rutland County Council has identified even more savings since last year. We need residents to understand the position we are in as we get ready to set our budget because it’s getting harder and harder to find savings. This means we may need to make some difficult decisions about how much money we can spend on certain services in the near future.”

Rutland County Council has made savings of almost £12.5million in the 10 years between 2011 and 2021. It has also identified a further £2million of savings since it approved its last budget in February 2021, while trying to limit the impact on frontline services. Despite these huge savings, the Council is projecting £2.2million funding gap from next year because of rising costs, growing demand for services and new taxes like the additional National Insurance levy for health and social care.

Rutland County Council has now launched a public consultation on its draft budget for 2022/23, inviting people to review the proposals and give their feedback. The consultation runs from Wednesday 19 January until Wednesday 9 February, with full details online at: www.rutland.gov.uk/budget.

As part of the consultation, Rutland County Councillors will be available to answer questions about the budget at a series of public engagement events:

  • Friday 21 January, Uppingham Town Market – 9.00am to 1.00pm
  • Wednesday 26 January, Oakham Market – 9.00am to 1.00pm
  • Saturday 29 January, Oakham Market – 9.00am to 1.00pm
  • Friday 4 February, Uppingham Market – 9.00am to 1.00pm

 

Feedback received as part of the consultation will be reported to Cabinet and Council in February, so that Councillors can consider the comments prior to a final budget being approved.

Was this information helpful?
Was this information helpful?
Was this information helpful?