A THIRD year’s freeze on council tax is beind proposed for householders in North Yorkshire.
Members of the County Council’s Executive will meet next week to approve a package of measures – including a proposal not to increase council tax - to be considered by the full council, at its annual budget meeting on February 20.
The Government has offered councils which implement a freeze a grant equivalent to a one per cent council tax rise. For North Yorkshire, this amounts to £2.2m.
“We know that many households are struggling financially,” said County Councillor John Weighell, the Leader of the Council and Chairman of the Executive.
“That is why we are pleased to be able to be proposing to freeze council tax for the third year in succession. This will have saved the average household £95 over the three years.”
Councillors will also consider savings proposals in the wake of the local government funding settlement, which has left the Council needing to find additional savings of about £23m over the next two years, on top of the £69m savings programme it is already implementing.
Since learning of the need for additional spending cuts in August, the council has identified about £18m of savings. These would come from further back office and administrative efficiencies, further reductions in staff numbers and further reviews of services and how the council procures services.
Work will continue to identify the remaining £5m of savings required during 2014/15 and proposals will be taken to the council in late summer. Areas to be considered include charges for services, examining criteria relating to standards of service and working to reduce demand for health-related services. The need to find savings on this scale will undoubtedly have an impact on the frontline.
In addition, the council, along with other local authorities, has lobbied the Government about its funding allocation.
“Rural councils have fared worse than urban councils in the local government funding settlement,” said Councillor Weighell.
“Councillors and local MPs have lobbied the Government, which has indicated it understands there is an issue and is looking at the matter. There is some cause for optimism that this may result in a reduction in the level of savings needed, perhaps by £1m or £2m.”
In addition to further efficiency savings, further staff reductions and changes to how services are procured, the package of measures includes:
• Reduction in the budget for concessionary fares and a review of concessionary fares reimbursement to bus operators;
• Refocusing of the trading standards service;
• A reduction in public rights of way maintenance;
• Additional income targets for libraries, registrars and archives services, a reduction in spending on library stock and further use of digitised services;
• Decommissioning of some children’s centre buildings
• Reduced spending on youth activities;
• Review of some children’s social care services.
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