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Gloucestershire Business News

Council Tax increase agreed

Council Tax will rise in the Forest of Dean, but there will be no cuts to frontline services in the coming year after the District Council approved its budget.

The increase of 2.99 per cent in Council Tax will see the district element, for the average Band D taxpayer, rise by £5.20 per year to £179.03.

The budget for 2019/20 was set at a Full Council meeting on Thursday, together with a the Medium Term Financial Strategy for 2019/20 to 2022/2023.

The approved net budget of £10,497,500 includes includes efficiency savings and additional income of £663,000.

The approved settlement for 2019/20 takes into account a further government revenue support grant reduction in cash terms of £306,000 or 10.6 per cent.

Councillor Roger James, Deputy Leader of the District Council said some of the revenue raised by the rise will be put back into the district to direct growth.

Cllr James, the cabinet member for finance, governance, performance and shared working added that the agreed net budget of £10,497,500 will provide "resilience."

He said: "Our budget has now been set year and we are confident that it will provide the resilience needed for the council to continue to support the local community,"

"We've frozen car parking charges for a further year and not made any reductions to our front-line services or council tax support scheme.

"Our approved budget includes an increase in council tax of 2.99%, with the clear intention for some of this to be directed at growth within the district."

Cllr James admitted that local authorities are facing "tough and complex financial pressures" due to cuts in government funding and the phasing out of revenue support grants.

He also pointed to a rising demand for services and the increased costs that causes.

He added: "In response to all of these pressures, we have worked tirelessly to cut costs, raise additional income and make savings in our budget, but our overriding responsibility had to be to protect the services that our customers value."

"Whilst at present we are able to maintain all existing services, financial challenges still lie ahead with further cuts looming.

"We're looking to the future by following a strategy that will make us financially sustainable without the need for government support by proposing direct inward investment within the district.

"Future years will see us investing in housing, leisure and commercial regeneration."

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