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Wednesday, 22 October 2014

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Cumbrian authority to increase council tax by 1.9 per cent

Copeland council plans to increase council tax by the highest it can without needing a public referendum while cutting a host of services.

ptwoodburn
Facts: Elaine Woodburn

The authority is proposing a 1.9 per cent increase from April plus a one per cent pay rise every year until 2017 for its employees, in keeping with other local authorities.

The tax increase of 1.9 per cent is the most that an authority can impose without it going to a public referendum.

Copeland leader Elaine Woodburn says the council has no option but to increase rates due to the “morally irresponsible” cuts it faces from the Government. Further service cuts and job losses could also be on the cards.

The council was already faced with slashing a massive £2.6m from its budget by 2015, and proposes to close venues – including Whitehaven’s Civic Hall and tourist information centre – and withdraw services such as doorstep recycling and grass cutting.

And after a grant it received from the Government in December was £400,000 less than anticipated, Ms Woodburn admitted that any hope that some of these under-threat services could be saved appears to be lost.

She said: “We are now having to address an additional loss of income in the December settlement. We were one of the top 10 hardest hit in the country by this, and the Government has not told us why.

“These cuts are morally irresponsible in a time when we are already attempting to save £2.6m and we will have to save even more next year. I want to invite Eric Pickles [Secretary of State of Communities and Local Government] to Copeland to explain why his government is determined to cause irrecoverable damage to Copeland through unprecedented cuts.”

A 1.9 per cent increase on Copeland’s share equates to £2.66 per year for a Band B property and £3.43 per year for a Band D. This increase will earn the council £76,000 a year.

The council says that the employee pay rise is being introduced to meet the expected national pay award.

As well as the proposed tax increase, the council also proposes to use £175,000 of unallocated funds to top up its budget and says it may have to bring some savings planned for 2014/15 forward.

Ms Woodburn added: “Our options for offsetting these losses are extremely limited and people need to realise that Copeland – as a place and as a council – will be significantly different soon.

“Our quality of life will be reduced because we have a government which does not recognise or care about need and deprivation.

“I make no apologies for this and I’m sure some will call this melodramatic, but the residents of Copeland need to understand that these cuts, coupled with benefit changes, could result in some families having to choose whether to pay the rent or put food on the table. How can this be? We live in the 21st century yet our budgets, services and support for residents are becoming Victorian.”

Have your say

I completely agree, it's a really ridiculous form of tax! I have been paying it for over eight years, I'm 25 now.. it's had a really negative impact on my finances over the years, especially towards the start of my career when i was on a low income.

Hey but 'tax doesn't have to be taxing' :P

Posted by spud on 19 January 2013 at 12:27

if you can afford 2% mike then i suggest you put more in the pot.
why as a retired pensioner are there people who contrbute nowt but take everything.
lats have the poll tax which was by far much fairer than this obscene tax.
tell me mike why should my £120 a month go towards public sector pension,or has i live in allerdale why should it be used towards the white elephant derwent park,i,ve no interest in it so why should i pay towards it.

Posted by cynical cumbrian on 14 January 2013 at 20:26

View all 11 comments on this article

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