Bolton Council has agreed a council tax rise for its own services of 1.94% at the council’s full budget meeting, a total increase of 1.87% including transport, waste, fire and police services.
Council tax had been frozen in 2011 and 2012. However, the council has had to make savings of £43m in 2013 - 2015 and must make further savings of £25m in 2015-16, so council leaders decided to increase council tax, rather than make further reductions in services.
This council tax rise means that those on Band A will pay £991.10, an increase of only £18.27 a year, while those living in a Band D property will pay £1,486.64 per year – an increase of £27.40 a year. These amounts include the police and fire precepts.
The council also approved the budget for 2014 -15, which included savings in services of £22m. This is due to a continuing reduction in the total amount of government grant the council receives, an unavoidable cost increase for waste disposal and transport and increases in costs as a result of higher demand for social care.
Despite the savings, the council also agreed extra one-off investment in key priority areas, funded from reserves. The council agreed to invest £2m in highways schemes and residential roads, £1m in facilities for young people, £0.5m to create a hardship fund for residents affected by benefit changes and a further £0.5m to create a fund for voluntary and community groups working with the council to reduce the demand for council services.
Finally, the council agreed to invest £400,000 in increasing the pay for the lowest paid council staff, to bring them towards a living wage.
Councillor Cliff Morris, Leader of Bolton Council said: “In setting this year’s budget and council tax, the council faced a series of difficult and complex decisions, all of which will have an impact on the citizens of this borough. It has therefore been necessary to strike a balance between protecting essential services, especially care for the most vulnerable children and adults, and helping households to cope with the cost of living pressures that they face.
We are asking the public to contribute through a modest increase in council tax in order to avoid making even more reductions in the services we provide to everyone and in particular to those who are most vulnerable.
Overall, the council will still be making savings which impact on services of over £22m, whilst asking the majority of households to contribute no more than 36p per week and no household will pay more than £1 a week.”