Exeter Council Tax Rise Proposed

    Thursday, January 13th, 2022 11:28am

    By Ollie Heptinstall Local Democracy Reporter

    Councillors will ultimately vote on any potential rise in the coming weeks, but if passed it will follow similar increases proposed by other local authorities in Devon in light of rising inflation and reduced revenues because of the pandemic.

    Council tax in Exeter is likely to go up after budget plans based on a £5 annual increase were revealed.
    Councillors will ultimately vote on any potential rise in the coming weeks, but if passed it will follow similar increases proposed by other local authorities in Devon in light of rising inflation and reduced revenues because of the pandemic.
    The amount is the maximum district councils are allowed to increase their share of council tax for the next financial year without going to a referendum.
    A £5 rise means the city’s element of council tax for a band D property would go up to £170.05. This is less than 10 per cent of a typical household’s total council tax bill and is separate from the larger element that goes to Devon County Council, the police and the fire services.
    A report to the city council’s executive on this week set out how the £5 rise, along with a small surplus and an increase in the number of properties paying council tax, would give the council roughly an extra £165,000 next year.
    However, an allowance of just under £625,000 has been set aside for inflation, including provision for a 13 per cent jump in oil prices and 7.4 per cent for electricity amid surging energy prices.
    Council leader Phil Bialyk (Labour, Exwick) said: “despite our estimates in [the report], inflation could be going anywhere at this moment in time,” while finance officer Dave Hodgson added it was “quite a significant added cost.”
    Councillor Ruth Williams (Labour, Mincinglake & Whipton) explained the lack of debate on the budget strategy by saying members had been invited to a private briefing on the budget last week, where Mr Hodgson had explained the “intricacies.”
    The report warned covid is continuing to cause “uncertainty around income levels for the council,” adding: “This will affect not only sales, fees and charges, but potentially business rates and council tax income as well.”
    It also said £6.6 million of cuts would be needed in future years if two key government grants – business rates and the new homes bonus – were to stop. A ‘fair funding review’ for local authorities by the government has been beset by delays.
    Members of the executive noted the report and approved the proposals to establish a balanced revenue budget and capital programme. The full budget, including any rise in council tax, will be presented to future meetings for approval.

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