York council tax to leap by 3.7% – with £6 million in cutbacks planned

It's budget consultation time… Photograph © Peter Czerwinski on Wikipedia / lensicle
1 Feb 2017 @ 12.40 pm
| News, Politics

York’s councillors have emerged from their annual wrangle with the finances and come up with a budget.

As widely expected, council tax is to shoot up to 3.7% in 2017/18. That’s more than double the UK inflation rate of 1.6%.

Only 0.7% is a standard council tax rise, the remaining 3% is the social care precept, to help pay for York’s “ageing population and increased complex needs in respect of elderly care”.

Meanwhile City of York Council proposes to cut spending by £6 million after the government cut its grant by about the same amount.

Fees in most council car parks will go up by 10p per hour

The council also plans to cut its contributions to York Museums Trust by £300k by 2019.

But there are capital investments totalling £36 million, including:

  • £10.1m on highways
  • £10.1m on housing
  • £2.9m on street lighting
  • £2.35m on the city walls and a replacement library for Haxby
  • £1.5m on museums.

The council, run by a Conservative-Lib Dem coalition, says this is a prudent budget which will invest in “key priority front line services across waste, winter maintenance, and adult and children’s services”.

A full report on the budget can be downloaded here. The council is expected to set the budget at its meeting on February 23.

Spending

£1.8m additional funding for adult social care contracts
£576k in highways maintenance
£535k to ‘cover unavoidable contractual price increases’ in waste and children’s services
£345k to develop the Local Plan
£500k to be spent on improving ‘financial inclusion’
£200k to support mental health services
£52k for winter gritting of roads
£37k to improve council procurement rules following criticism by auditors

Saving

£1.78m cut from health, housing and adult social care
£1.35m cut from children, education and communities
£909K cut from the economy and place budget
£1.18m cut from the customer and corporate services budget
£750k cut from the council’s corporate services department
£406k cut from home to school transport, including the withdrawal of bus transport to Manor School from September

Charges

Car parks – up by 10p per hour
‘Social housing’ rents – down by 1%
Non ‘social housing’ rents – up by 2%
Older person’s homes – weekly charge up by 8% to £649

All this adds up to a budget of just under £120 million.

‘Difficult decisions’

York has the 7th lowest band D council tax, the 4th lowest spend per head of population and the 9th lowest government funding per head of any unitary council in England.

We’ve had to make some difficult decisions in setting this budget.

But, we’ve listened to residents and will be focusing our resources on roads and pavements and services for the most vulnerable people in the city.

That’s why we’re investing more than £2 million in adult services this coming year, having invested almost the same amount in children’s services the previous year.

– David Carr (Cons), City of York Council leader

People and businesses across the city have made it clear where they think we should prioritise, and we’ve responded.

Our proposals double the planned investment in roads and pavements over the next five years, to over £20m alongside £3m over five years for street lighting.

We’re also investing significantly in social care as well as in gulley cleaning, drainage and litter bins.

– Keith Aspden (Lib Dem), City of York Council deputy leader