Council tax set to leap 3.5%
Reporter: DAWN MARSDEN
Date online: 23 January 2013
OLDHAM Council is set to increase council tax by 3.5 per cent with council chiefs warning residents they face a stark choice between paying more or libraries and children’s centres closing.
The local authority says it needs the hike to deliver a balanced budget for 2013/4 and towards an estimated £38 million in savings by 2015.
Major reductions in funding from Central Government and the impact of other pressures mean savings totalling £100 million have already been made in the past four years.
But Lib-Dem councillors have blasted the increase labelling it a bombshell for residents.
It would mean an estimated rise of 60p per week for residents in Band A properties (43 per cent of borough households) and up to 90p a week for Band D homes.
Worse news is set to follow as the Greater Manchester Police Authority (GMPA) and the Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority (GMFRA), are yet to advise Oldham Council of their spending intentions for 2013/4 and there has also been no indication received from Shaw and Crompton, and Saddleworth parish councils.
Greater Manchester’s Police and Crime Commissioner Tony Lloyd this week announced plans to increase the police element of residents’ annual council tax bill.
The draft budget proposals go before an Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Monday, then cabinet on February 18 and finally a special full council budget meeting on February 27. If approved they would see a first rise in council tax in three years.
Oldham Council leader Councillor Jim McMahon added: “We have found savings of £30 million already this year, however the additional £7.5 million of cuts from Government means we either start closing libraries and children’s centres — as seen in neighbouring areas — or we look for balance and increase council tax.
The increase will be the first rise in council taxes for three years.
The government has made funding available to enable councils to freeze council Tax for 2013/14, although the grant is much lower than in previous years.
Liberal Democrat councillor Lynne Thompson, shadow cabinet member for finance, said: ““This is a shocking slap in the face for the borough’s residents. Doesn’t this Labour administration ever remember whose money it is?”
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