INVERCLYDE householders look set to be spared a district-wide council tax rise on top of a Government-imposed hike that is affecting thousands after a decision by the council’s budget working group.
The cross-party group’s package of finance proposals will be put to a meeting of the full council on 16 February and does not include a rise in council tax. The group represents 14 of the council’s 20 members including Labour, Liberal Democrats, Conservative and independent councillors. The six SNP councillors withdrew their representation on the group at the end of last year.
In a statement released on Tuesday evening, Inverclyde Council leader and chairman of the budget group Stephen McCabe said: “Despite a reduction in the council’s grant of nearly £5million from the Scottish Government, the cross-party group has honoured the commitment given previously to balance the 2017/18 budget without further service reductions over and above those previously agreed as part of the 2016/18 two-year budget set in March 2016. This will be achieved through the use of reserves.
“The group had considered closing some of the budget gap with a three per cent council tax rise for all council taxpayers as recommended by the Scottish Government. However, on balance, members of the group decided against this. They are conscious that 7,000 households in Inverclyde already face potential rises of between 7.5 per cent and 22.5 per cent and did not wish to add to the burden on these families.”
He added: “Members of the group recognise that if the Scottish Government continues to cut the council’s funding year on year, a rise in the basic level of council tax is inevitable next year and every year thereafter.
“The council’s chief financial officer is estimating that the potential funding gap in 2018/19 is of the order of £10.5million, assuming a further £4.7million cut in Scottish Government funding. A savings target of this magnitude will be hugely challenging for the new council elected in May and will require a fundamental review of the services the council delivers.”