Chichester District Council likely to raise council tax

‘THERE’S work to be done’, as Chichester District Council braces itself for the impact of the government’s austerity measures – by preparing to raise council taxes.

At a cabinet meeting on Tuesday (February 5), members voted to recommend to full council a rise of nearly £5 per year for every band D household.

Cabinet member for finance Tony Dignum said in recognition of past efficiencies, some councils in England and Wales have been given permission by the government to raise council tax by more than the two per cent government cap.

“Just 50 councils in the whole of England and Wales, including Chichester, now have that freedom,” he said.

The council is looking to save £500,000 by April 2014, as a result of reductions in government grant.

However Mr Dignum said: “Only this morning Mr Osborne was suggesting local governments could face even more cuts than originally planned.”

In response council leader Heather Caird thanked Mr Dignum and staff for their work putting the 2013/14 budget together.

However, she said: “It’s disappointing to hear the government are constantly moving the goalposts and changing the nature of what we’re trying to do.

“There’s a £500,000 deficit coming towards us, and there’s work to be done.”

Mr Dignum added: “We made sure we’re in no worse position than before this change.”

The rise follows two years when council tax has been frozen. The government grant for freezing council tax is £70,000, whereas £246,000 will be raised by the £5 increase.

“We will have to look at each year as it comes along,” Mr Dignum added.

John Connor, cabinet member for the environment and community safety, said: “It may shock people to know virtually everything we provide comes from council tax.” He added £5 per year shows the work the council is doing every year with a ‘remarkably small sum’.