BIG Council Tax Increase Agreed By Inverclyde Council

29 February, 2024 | Local

COUNCIL tax is to rise by just over 14 per cent in Inverclyde over the next two years.

Inverclyde Council set its budget and council tax rates for 2024/25 and 2025/26 at a special full council meeting today.

Council tax will go up by 8.2 per cent from April this year and by a further six per cent from April 2025.

The Band D level will increase by £117.24 to £1,547.01 or an extra £2.25 a week for 2024/25.

The council had initially been facing an estimated £12.5million funding gap over the next two financial years.

Today’s budget and council tax decisions ,along with the use of council reserves, mean the local authority has set a balanced budget without the loss of jobs and with minimal cuts to services.

Councillor Stephen McCabe, leader of Inverclyde Council, said: “This has been the most difficult budget process that I have been involved in during my 17 years with the council.

“Despite the challenges, we are fulfilling our legal obligation to deliver a balanced budget and, more importantly, we are delivering a budget that protects frontline jobs and services for the people of Inverclyde.

“At a time when Inverclyde is haemorrhaging jobs in the private sector, we have kept council job losses to the bare minimum. The budget savings options put out for consultation included 110 jobs losses. This budget doesn’t include any of those proposals.

“A two-year budget also provides some short-term stability and a degree of certainty for council staff and the residents we serve. As anyone involved in setting the budget will attest to, it is a long and tiring process that takes its toll so this should provide some relief for the next couple of years.”

Councillor McCabe continued: “Council Tax has risen by an average of 1.1 per cent in Inverclyde over the last 16 years, well below the average rate of inflation, which is a big reason why the council is facing a huge budget deficit. This cannot continue. Councils are at breaking point.

“By increasing council tax and utilising reserves we have kept service cuts to a minimum. A quarter of households in Inverclyde do not benefit from a council tax freeze as they are in receipt of council tax reduction, and they suffer most when services and jobs are cut.

“To put it into context, 2,300 of Inverclyde’s 40,000 households are exempt from council tax and 9,000 households don’t pay any more when council tax is increased as they are in receipt of council tax reduction. So, up to 28 per cent of households in Inverclyde won’t pay any more in council tax next year.

“The average weekly increase for the remaining 28,700 households is £1.99. For those living in Band A properties (46 per cent of households) the weekly increase is £1.50 and for those in Band B (16 per cent of households) the increase is £1.75.

“An 8.2 per cent increase means the average council tax rise over the last 17 years is 1.5 per cent, still significantly below the rate of inflation.

“We are today exercising our right as a council to set our own rate of council tax and to decline the Scottish Government offer to freeze the rate for next year.”

It was also agreed at the meeting to provide an extra £5.558m for social care services, a year-on-year increase of 8.2 per cent.

Funding was also announced to support young people and families by making summer playschemes free to attend on a permanent basis and to pay the Real Living Wage to the council’s Modern Apprentices.

The council will also continue to fund universal free school meals for all primary school pupils, the only local authority in Scotland to do so, and to provide free swimming during holiday periods and grants to many youth organisations and sports clubs.

Councillor McCabe said: “This is a budget that protects jobs, protects services, supports the most vulnerable, supports young people, and invests in our community.”

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