Report by Alex Evans
Saturday, January 28, 2012
A TRADE union has called on North Somerset Council to raise council tax to prevent a ‘hole’ in its budgets and protect vital services.
Unison wants the authority to reject a proposed council tax freeze when it sets its budgets next month.
The council is currently preparing to freeze council tax at its current level – £1,150,87 a year for a band D property – to qualify for a Government grant of £2.267million.
But Unison spokesman Helen Thornton said: “If North Somerset Council accepts the council tax freeze grant it will mean much higher council tax increases in the future or, alternatively, even deeper cuts.
“As a grant equivalent to 2.5 per cent of council tax income it is well under inflation, which currently stands at between four and five per cent.
“This means the council’s income isn’t keeping up with its costs.”
She also said the fact the grant is only funded for one year means the council will have a hole equivalent to £2.3million in its annual budgets from 2013.
Ms Thornton called for a council tax increase of 3.5 per cent, which would cost residents an extra £3.35 per month on average.
She added: “A rejection of the council tax freeze grant will send a clear message to Westminster that North Somerset Council, as a low-funded authority, cannot provide essential services on the current levels of Government funding, and increasing council tax is the only way to protect vital public services to our most vulnerable citizens.”
A spokesman for the council said the authority is ‘minded to accept’ the freeze grant, but it will not formally make the decision until a full council meeting on February 21.