North Yorkshire residents look set to have to find more than £100 extra from April to pay an average council tax bill, despite their newly-launched local authority embarking on a rigorous cost-cutting programme.
North Yorkshire County Council’s executive will next Tuesday consider charging average band D households £83.64 more just for services that have traditionally been provided by the district, borough and county councils.
Residents are also facing having to pay significantly higher council tax bills due to expected rises in precepts from North Yorkshire Police, North Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Service and parish councils, some of which are considering levying large-scale increases to cover their costs.
As the proposed police and fire precepts will not be announced until later this month it remains unclear what total council tax rise residents will face, but under the proposal for the unitary North Yorkshire Council element of council tax bills, band D residents would have to pay £1,759.96.
Residents of areas such as Hambleton will face yet steeper increases, paying about £45 extra on what they paid last year to bring their bills into line with those charged elsewhere in the county.
A report to the executive states even with a 4.99 per cent increase in its charge, the new council will need to use £30m of reserves to balance its budget in 2023/24 alone alongside a cost-cuttingb programme to save up to £68m annually.
Councillor Gareth Dadd, the authority’s finance executive member, said he was acutely aware of financial pressures households are facing and that those in the greatest financial need would be given up to 100 per cent reductions on council tax bills.
The authority’s leader, Councillor Carl Les, said: “We are facing the greatest ever financial challenges in North Yorkshire, which means we have a huge task in ensuring that services can be delivered effectively and efficiently for the public.
“However, without the opportunities presented with the launch of the new council, the situation would be a great deal worse, and it is vital that we take full advantage of these opportunities.
“We have the chance to make millions of pounds in savings by reorganising the way services are delivered, meaning that we get the most out of every pound of taxpayers’ money in North Yorkshire.”
Opposition groups on the authority said although the 4.99 per cent increase would be very difficult for many households to cover, with inflation at 11 per cent it meant a six per cent real terms reduction to pay for council services.
Green Party leader Councillor Andy Brown said: “This is being forced on local councils by national government decisions and it leaves North Yorkshire Council massively short of what it needs to provide a reasonable level of service.”
Leader of the Independents group, Councillor Stuart Parsons, said as the government had failed to carry out its promised reforms of social care charging councils were being forced to put the charge onto council tax bills.
He said: “It shows yet again the Conservatives are a high tax party. Since 2010 onwards with austerity the government has savaged local authorities and then expected them to massively increase local taxation to cover their inadequacies.”