FENLAND: Council pledges to keep Council tax to 3.9 per cent despite falling incomes

FENLAND Council has pledged to keep its Council Tax rise next year to 3.9 per cent despite falling incomes from land searches, planning applications and lower returns on investments. The council is also suffering from reduced income on shipping into Wisbe

FENLAND Council has pledged to keep its Council Tax rise next year to 3.9 per cent despite falling incomes from land searches, planning applications and lower returns on investments.

The council is also suffering from reduced income on shipping into Wisbech Port but says despite these pressures, it remains committed to keeping Council Tax as low as possible.

Cabinet approached a draft budget just before Christmas which will be finalised in February once the levels of Government grants are known.

Finance director Mat Taylor said the corporate management team was monitoring the estimates in the light of the worsening economic outlook but praised colleagues who had intervened early to save the council tens of thousands of pounds.


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Mr. Taylor said the council would be budgeting for a weaker economic climate, i.e. predicting lower levels of income over the medium term, but would also be ready to bounce back quickly when the economy improves.

"This will necessitate maintaining services and not cutting jobs unless due to efficiency savings or changes in priorities," he said.

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He warned the current economic climate is impacting on Fenland residents and businesses and promised the council would be at the forefront of efforts to mitigate these effects wherever possible.

He promised the council would:

n Provide advice and financial help for vulnerable residents to reduce energy costs

n Provide advice and financial help to businesses to reduce energy costs through a 'Green Business Club'

n Promote benefits advice services

n Coordinate and publicise debt advise

n Enter into payment arrangements for those in difficulty paying their Council Tax

n Work with Business Link and traders to provide help for businesses in trouble

n Ensure payments due to suppliers are made as quickly as possible

The council is due some one off payments next year, including £1.213 million once the current Housing Revenue Account closes in the light of the transfer of the council's housing stock to Roddons.

The council is also expecting, says Mr Taylor, "a significant sum" relating to previously owned assets.

He added that the Government had set a limit of 5 per cent on Council Tax rises but expected them to be much lower.

Fenland's Cabinet had "expressed a clear determination to maintain a relatively lower and consistent 3.9 per cent increase, being conscious of the financial pressures currently faced by local communities.

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