RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATION AND INDEPENDENT GROUP
Council Tax is Set to Rise Once More in Surrey
Surrey County Council agrees to raise Council Tax by 5.99% for 2018/2019
On 6th February the Conservative-led Surrey County Council (SCC) approved another Council tax hike of 5.99%. Band D households in Surrey will be facing an annual increase of £80 as Tory ministers have relaxed the council tax cap.
Last year, after a shambolic council tax referendum proposal, SCC Leader David Hodge reached a “gentlemen’s agreement” with the government. This coming year the Council will receive £20 million as a one-off under a Business Rates retention pilot scheme, but will still need to find £39 million from its declining reserves and capital receipts. Surrey will have lost £200 million of its core government funding over the last 8 years.
In his annual budget speech, Leader of the Residents’ Association and Independent Group Nick Harrison pointed out that councils must balance their books, and very soon SCC might not be able to do that:
“Council are straining to make cuts, to improve their efficiency, deal with reduced national funding and if all else fails, to use reserves. Eventually, the books just won’t balance. Somebody had to get there first and last weekend Northamptonshire declared it was in ’special measures’. Surrey faces similar challenges. Increasingly the cuts are being noticed by our residents as they impact the services we all use – turning out street lights, reducing spending on roads and charges and reduced hours at the recycling centre.”
Cllr Harrison added that the Council does not have a credible plan to meet its statutory obligations whilst retaining a reasonable level of universal services beyond 2018/2019. He further noted that Surrey’s MPs are not listening to their Conservative colleagues in Surrey:
“I listened to Council Leader David Hodge on BBC Radio Surrey asking residents to spend 50p on a stamp and write to their MP’s about the funding situation. That’s an incredible admission about his group’s lack of clout. I have explained the situation to my MP and the next step must be to withhold support for these budget recommendations.”
Residents’ Association and Independent County Councillors abstained or voted against the proposed budget during Tuesday’s full council meeting. Despite the opposition’s concerns and protests, the Conservative majority approved the 2018/19 budget.
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