20th Apr, 2021

'Heated debate' as Redditch council tax closes on £2,000

Harry Leach 24th Feb, 2021

REDDITCH residents will be facing a council tax bill of close to £2,000 in the coming financial year for a Band D property.

The bill – £1,920.85 – closed in on the £2,000 mark after Redditch Borough Council rubber stamped its budget which will see its share of the council tax precept go up by the maximum £5 for 2021-22.

That is the equivalent of 10p a week on a Band D property taking it from last year’s tax increase of £244.15 to £249.15.

A heated debate between members of the Conservative-controlled authority and the Labour Party broke out over the increase on Monday night’s full council budget meeting.

The opposition Labour group tabled an alternative budget increase of 0.7 per cent, rather than two per cent, citing local residents and businesses struggling because of the pandemic. However this was rejected by the ruling group.

In a heartfelt speech Labour leader Councillor Bill Hartnett told the meeting: “This has been a very difficult year for everyone involved – we have small and large businesses in Redditch experiencing difficulties.

“Residents are at a breaking point and they are facing an increasing level of tax each year.

“The police want a 6.6 per cent rise, or £15 on Band D, the county council want a 2.5 per cent rise, or £32.78 on a Band D and it’s likely the fire service will want a 1.97 rise, or £1.68 on Band D.

“Now the borough council is proposing this two per cent increase.

“That’s a total of £54.57 which will bring Band D payments to £1,920.85.

“In Redditch and all local authorities we have been making savings and cuts for over a decade – enough is enough.

“Our inflation rise of 0.7 per cent – the level of the consumer price inflation figure in January – is the right thing to do in this very special, one-off year.”

However Conservative members hit back saying the council tax had to be increased due to the authority having a Section 24 notice.

This was imposed in 2019 after the authority was told it needed to save £6million in three years or else run out of money.

Council leader, Coun Matt Dormer (Con, West), said: “We would love nothing more than to not put up the council tax.

“It would help a lot of people and we do understand that.

“The problem we have is we have a Section 24 notice and we cannot afford to not increase the council tax.

“By not putting it up this year we would see an £86,000 swing on our income, £89,000 by year two and approximately £450,000 by year five.

“It would put us out of pocket and we would not be able to deliver the services we are currently operating for the people of this town.

“We are in a predicament and we need to get out of it.”

 

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