Council tax freeze for North Yorkshire
11:35am 7th February 2011
North Yorkshire County Council is set to freeze council tax this year.
It say it's because households are struggling to make ends meet in the current economic climate.
What it means though is tough decisions will have to be made about services for residents in the county.
The council's Chief Executive Richard Flinton has admitted "it will not be possible to protect all front-line services"
The county council’s executive members next week will decide on a budget strategy which will attempt to deal with a very tough Government funding settlement without raising council tax.
North Yorkshire faces considerable challenges and some very difficult decisions ahead. The Government’s settlement is compounded by other pressures such as the transition of responsibility for concessionary fares to the county council which has, in itself, led to a £5m deficit. This means that the county council has to find £69 million of savings over the four year period, the vast majority of which have to be found in the first two years due to the frontloading of the Government settlement.
The freezing of council tax will make budget choices even tougher, but the county council understands that many households are struggling to make ends meet in the current economic climate and that the budget will have to be made to balance through savings.
County councillor John Weighell, North Yorkshire’s leader said:
“We understand how difficult things are for households and families at the present time and so we are proposing not to raise council tax. However, North Yorkshire is a low spending and low taxing council which has already made £60m of savings already over the past five years. This leaves the authority with reduced scope for making savings through efficiency. Nevertheless we are doing everything possible to make tough spending decisions while protecting frontline services and the most vulnerable people in our society.”
The county council has so far identified £54 million of savings and remains confident that it will be able to find all necessary savings over the course of the four year spending review. While it prepares a savings plan which will balance the books as well as protecting frontline services as much as possible, the county council’s Executive will consider a one-off proposal to draw on reserves to plug the shortfall in 2011/12
County councillor John Weighell added:
“This is a perfectly justifiable use of our reserves, though further painful decisions will still have to be made We are drawing up a plan to replenish these reserves over the course of the four years, but we want to ensure that any savings we now make are part of a fully thought through strategy, not a knee-jerk reaction to meet the heavy demands of front-loaded cuts to our budget. “
Richard Flinton, North Yorkshire’s chief executive said:
“We will continue to make savings in management, administration, better contracts and so on. Although it will not be possible to protect all front-line services, we hope this short-term use of the county council’s reserves will mean we can make the necessary savings over a longer period and so maintain the county’s high quality services to the fullest extent possible.”
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