DERBYSHIRE: Council tax freeze

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Derbyshire County Council is proposing to freeze council tax for a third year running for the first time ever.

Members of the council’s cabinet today (Jan 29) backed proposals which would see the authority’s annual budget for 2013/14 set at £533m – including budget reduction targets of £27m.

The planned savings are on top of £70m of savings and 1,600 job losses in the last three years – most of which have been through early retirement, voluntary redundancy, and vacancy control.

And the authority’s five year plan has been updated to show that further reductions of £100m are required over the next four years.

Councillor Andrew Lewer, Derbyshire County Council Leader, said: “We understand some residents are struggling to make ends meet and I am pleased that we can again announce zero increase.

“Council tax had never been frozen for two successive years before so, by proposing to freeze it for a third successive year, we are really showing our commitment to supporting residents in tough times.”

Councillor Lewer added: “The squeeze on public spending to reduce the national debt means tough choices have to be made. We’ve already saved £70m and will save a further £27m over the coming year.

“We will continue to protect frontline services and jobs wherever possible and look at more efficient ways of working to make every penny of taxpayers’ money work for their benefit.”

The proposals – which need ratification at full council on February 6 – would see some areas of the county council’s budgets increased to meet pressures on services, including: an extra £5.4m invested in adult care to support an increasing number of elderly residents; an extra £1.1m to support a rising number of children in care; a further £1.8m to combat increased landfill charges.

From April the county council takes responsibility for local health expenditure which will be funded with a ring-fenced grant totalling approximately £35m.

It will also take over responsibility for Community Care Grants and Crisis loans, for which the Government has awarded a combined grant of £1.9m.

Around 46% of the county council’s annual net budget comes from council tax. The remainder of it comes from central Government which for the first time this year used its new ‘fair funding’ formula.