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Councillors vote for average Council Tax increase of £5

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Torridge Increase Council Tax by £5 per year

Against a backdrop of ongoing grant reductions from central government Torridge Councillors last night voted to increase Council Tax on an average Band D property by £5 for 2019/20; the equivalent of 10p per week, although most Torridge residents will pay less than this. This move mirrors similar increases from other Councils across the Country as they seek to maintain services against a 37% cut in direct Government funding to local authorities since 2013.

This means that Torridge's average Band D Council Tax will rise from £158.66 to £163.66.

Although Torridge collect the Council Tax, they do not keep it all, only retaining around 8.5p out of every £1 collected.The bulk of Council Tax receipts continue to go to Devon County Council which has already voted to increase their share of the Council Tax by 3.99% or around £53 on a band D property. Fire and Police Services have also elected to increase their share, so despite Torridge only adding £5 to the bill the overall level for band D properties will be around £90 higher than last year.

The Council continues to reshape the way it works under its "Transforming Torridge" project with the most recent savings being delivered by moving its operations to a single site. The small increase in Council Tax is in line with Central Governments approved referendum limits and expectation that some of the shortfall in funding, as direct grants are removed, will be raised through Council Tax receipts.    

Leader of the Council Councillor Jane Whittaker said:

"We all appreciate as Councillors that in a low wage economy such as there is in Torridge any increase in the cost of living will have an impact on many households. So, while we might prefer not to increase Council Tax levels at all, we have pegged this years rise to just £5 a year and to a level which allows us to protect and maintain all our essential services. It is worth remembering that as a Council we have successfully achieved all the savings targets asked of us since the financial crisis began, setting and delivering a balanced budget despite ever continuing reductions in Central Government funding."

Councillor David Hurley - Deputy Leader and Lead Member for Customer Services said:

"Whilst it is always difficult to recommend and justify a decision to increase the Council Tax in any year, it is my opinion that small yearly increases are preferable to sporadic much larger increases. It is now clearer than ever that in the relaxation of Government controls it is recognised that there is no additional money at a national level to plug the growing financial gap in providing services locally and the importance of Council Tax grows year on year.

From the information presented to Councillors last night it is clear that Torridge is in a relatively good financial position compared to other Councils across the country but we still have substantial forecast budget gaps in the future to address. Council Tax is one of few areas that we have control over to manage our finances and we must plan not just for next year, but for the future and, therefore the responsible thing to do was to vote for this increase."

 Torridge are still providing flexible payment options to local residents in order to pay their Council Tax on time and when it suits them. Council Tax payers throughout the district can opt to pay in either 10 or 12 monthly instalments, thereby helping them to manage tight household budgets. Torridge also offers additional payment dates each month: residents can opt to pay on the 1st, 7th, 15th, 21st or 28th of each month.

26 February 2019