County Hall votes to increase Council Tax

In approving its £1.1billion budget for the next financial year, which begins in April, members at County Hall have increased the amount a Band D householder will have to pay this year by £67.50, increasing the average bill from £1,351 to £1,418.

The 5 per cent increase includes three per cent ring-fenced for adult social care and is the maximum the authority can increase Council Tax without holding a referendum.

The budget comes as KCC, like many local Councils is struggling to balance its books in the wake of the Covid pandemic.

Despite government grants, the Council has reported a budget shortfall of around £50million caused by the coronavirus crisis.

Tunbridge Wells councillor and Deputy Leader of the Conservative controlled authority, Peter Oakford, had told members at County Hall today [February 11] that as the cabinet member in charge of finance he did not ‘want to be in a position to propose a council tax increase’ but he had ‘no choice’ to prevent ‘brutal’ cuts to services.

Last year councillors at County Hall were criticised during the first lockdown for voting through a new allowances scheme that would have seen members’ allowances increase by 4.2 per cent.

The rise in allowances was subsequently reduced to 2 per cent.

Around 7,000 Council workers at KCC have also been awarded a 2 per cent pay increase this year.

While the majority of Council Tax goes to County Hall, other authorities get a share and they are also expected to make increases.

Tunbridge Wells Borough Council has already indicated its share of Council Tax, known as the precept, will rise by the maximum £5.

And Kent Police and Crime Commissioner Matthew Scott has already had approved an increase in his precept by £15 a year for Band D taxpayers.

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