Councillors in Dorset are to vote on a budget proposal that would put up average council tax bills in the area by just over £50 a year.
The planned 3 percent rise in council tax bills comes as Dorset Council aims for a total budget in 2022-23 of £331.6 million.
According to the council, the budget proposals include additional money for:
adult social care – a 10 percent increase (equating to £13 million, taking the total budget to £141 million) to fund the rising need for social care in the local population and rising costs
children’s services – a 4 percent increase (equating to £2.7 million, taking the total budget to £74.5 million) to fund improvements to support children in care and children with special educational needs and disabilities
climate and ecological emergency response – £10m capital investment over the next 5 years to help fund the delivery of the council’s action plan
housing – an extra £0.75 million to support the development of more new homes with its Registered Providers and the supply of better value temporary accommodation from the private rented sector.
Social care services represent 59 percent of Dorset Council’s total net spending.
The government confirmed in December 2021 that Dorset Council will receive £10.4 million more than originally anticipated for 2022-23. This enables the council to put in place robust contingency funds. However, it is a one-year settlement, and not the multi-year settlement that the authority had hoped for.
If agreed, these budget proposals would see a 3 percent increase in council tax made up of a 1.998 percent increase in general council tax and 0.996 percent increase for the social care precept. For a band D property, this equates to £1.02 extra a week, or just over £50 a year more.
Dorset Council’s Cabinet will consider the budget proposals in the meeting on 18 January, and proposals will then be considered and voted on by all Dorset Councillors at the Full Council meeting on 15 February.
If Dorset Council does raise the council tax as proposed, that is not the only likely increase for residents. Gillingham Council is planning to raise its precept – its portion of the council tax – by around 4 percent, which could mean a rise in average bills of about £10 a year. And the police and fire and rescue services are also set to raise their precepts too.
Councillor Gary Suttle, Portfolio Holder for Finance, Commercial and Capital Strategy, said: ‘These are responsible and carefully considered budget proposals, designed to ensure the council can continue to deliver vital services to meet the needs of our residents.
‘We have robust plans to deliver efficiency and transformation savings so we can balance the council’s budget while avoiding cuts to essential front-line services.
‘We continue to face an exceptionally difficult period due to the COVID pandemic and growing demand and price pressures. We are grateful to Government for the better than anticipated financial settlement for next year, but we really need multi-year settlements so we can plan for the longer term.
‘My colleagues and I are lobbying Government for fairer funding for Dorset. As a big rural council with a large elderly population, we face higher costs than many other councils. Yet we have been historically under-funded by Government. This is something that needs to change so we can reduce the burden on local council taxpayers.’