Published Tuesday 19 February 2019 at 16:30
Council Tax in Blackburn and Darwen will be recommended to remain the second lowest in Lancashire despite proposals to raise it in the coming year while vital services remain under pressure.
The proposed increase of 2.99% is a weekly increase of 56p for a Band A Council Tax payer and 84p for a Band D property.
The proposals are due to be debated and decided at a meeting of the Finance Council on Monday, February 25th 2019.
Councillor Andy Kay, Executive Member for Resources at Blackburn with Darwen Council, said:
Every year the Council has to agree a balanced budget. As we are facing a £8m funding gap during 2019/2020 we have little choice but to ask residents to pay more. We managed to freeze it for five years but that’s no longer possible.
Government assumed we would increase Council Tax by this amount when they set our funding for 2019/20. Even with this increase, it will not prevent continued cut backs having to be made to all services.
The reason being there are increasing costs covering things like disposal of waste and more demand for services. Increased demand involves especially adults and children’s care as the number of older residents needing our support increase year on year we also see higher demand and more complex cases including children with disabilities.
The vast majority of housing in the borough is at the lower end of the Council Tax scale so the money which comes in does not cover everything we need.
Council reserves will be set as they have been in previous years at the absolute minimum we are advised which is £4m.
Spending plans are limited and will focus on what people have told us is important to them such as support for the most vulnerable, improvements to waste and clean streets. We will focus on helping the borough grow and create jobs by supporting and attracting new businesses, working with residential and commercial developers and improving our town centres.
Councillor Kay added:
Unfortunately we can’t plan any further ahead in any detail until the Government confirms any longer term funding. In the meantime we have to focus on making the most of what we have and looking at all opportunities for investment at the same time as keeping on top of the savings and service reduction programme.