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WILTSHIRE Council has agreed to an increase in Council Tax by 5.99%, seeing an additional 22p per week or £1.54 per week for a Band D household.
Wiltshire Council says, “The approved budget reflects the challenges of delivering services against a backdrop of continued reduction in Government funding, a sustained increase in demand for some services; particularly adult social care and children’s safeguarding, and the increase in the national wage and inflation costs.
“It is planned to continue a programme of capital investment across the county. £310million over the next four years will be invested to provide strong and sustainable infrastructure that includes £55million for housing; £21million to protect and grow the local economy; £96million for highways; £76million into our schools; and £40million for community facilities.
“In addition, an amendment to the budget was approved that will allocate £669,000 (£655,000 from the recently announced Rural Fund, and £14,000 from the additional New Homes Bonus) to go into street scene services to help to improve the environment, including combating litter and fly tipping.”
Baroness Scott of Bybrook OBE, leader of Wiltshire Council said, “I think we should all be proud that even in the toughest and most challenging of times we have continued to deliver services that people need and do all that we can to improve the lives for people in Wiltshire, and, in particular, for those who are most vulnerable.
“This budget continues that work, as well as allocating significant funding for investment to grow the local economy and improve the environment and facilities for local communities.”
However, Lib Dem councillors on Wiltshire Council have hit back at the budget, saying, “The political choices of the Tory cabinet have directly led to them needing to hike Council Tax up by 6% in 2018/19, meaning Band D properties will be paying almost £80 more per year to Wiltshire Council for fewer services.”
Cllr Ian Thorn, Lib Dem leader on Wiltshire Council said, “This increase will be hard to bear for many residents in Wiltshire. Sadly, many people will be paying more for less. This is bad news for Wiltshire residents, workers and many people who rely on their services.
“The circumstances that the Tory administration find themselves in are undeniably tough, with the need for them to find £53million of savings, as a result of the removal of grants by the Conservative government in Westminster. The need to raise Council Tax so greatly though is at least partly self-inflicted, with the great show that the Tories on Wiltshire Council made of freezing council tax between 2010 and 2016.
“This political stunt has harmed the financial viability of the council and has left it facing a £26million shortfall in its budget. If in contrast, they had agreed a fairer approach with a gradual rise across this period, the council would currently be in the region of £25million per year better off. Thus, we could have avoided the people of Wiltshire being hit by an inflation-busting 6% increase in their Council Tax bills.”
You can read Baroness Scott’s full budget speech on the website – http://www.wiltshire.gov.uk/news/articles/baroness-scotts-budget-speech
The budget papers are available on the website – http://cms.wiltshire.gov.uk/ ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=130&MId=10974