Chesterfield leaders are keeping tax low for the coming year in a bid to help residents’ finances, but opponents have accused them of playing with the figures to win votes in an election year.
Members of Chesterfield Borough Council (CBC) agreed a 2.99 per cent Council Tax rise in a meeting on Wednesday (February 22), equating to just 6.9 pence per week for band A properties, which make up the majority of the borough, and 10.3 pence per week for band D.
CBC’s Labour Leader Councillor Tricia Gilby commented: “Increasing Council Tax by any amount is never a decision we take lightly, and the last thing we want to do is place another burden on the borough’s households who are already struggling with rising fuel, energy, and food prices.
“However, we have little option but to increase Chesterfield Borough Council’s share of the council tax.
“Since 2010, we have seen the main Government grant for the council fall from £10.1 million to just £0.5 million this year.
“Our finances in the past year have also been massively impacted by the cost-of-living crisis whilst demand for our services has significantly grown especially those services that we provide to the most vulnerable people in our communities.”
In the meeting, Liberal Democrat leader Councillor Paul Holmes agreed the rate should be kept low, commending the authority for taking a ‘real terms hit’ of seven per cent against the current inflation rate of around ten per cent.
He added however that CBC’s Medium Term Financial Plan made for ‘grim’ reading, with the deficit increasing from £470k currently to £4.7million by the 2026/27 financial year.
Coun Holmes referred to the council’s decision to move £1million from reserves to balance this year’s budget, saying it was ‘one way of cheating’ the system that would deplete the reserves for future years.
“So this is a bit of an emergency measure to try and sort the predicted deficit before election,” he said.
“We’ll take every spare bit of money out of reserves that we can and there’s nothing left for the year after and the year after and the year after.”
Chesterfield Borough Council’s elections are due to take place on May 4.
Extra fees linked with bin collections totalling more than £1.2 million are costing a Derbyshire council dearly as it plans its budget. Derbyshire Dales District Council is set to approve its budget for the next year, including an increase in its council tax precept of 2.94 per cent – £6.58 more a year for Band D taxpayers to a precept of £230.10. In its budget papers, set to be debated next week, […]