In a bold move, the council in the borough plans to once again offer a 2 per cent discount on Council Tax bills for thousands of households in the area. This discount, which will amount to an average reduction of £37 per year, aims to ease the burden on local residents while still maintaining crucial local services.
To fund this discount, the council proposes to increase Council Tax bills by the full 4.99 per cent allowed by the government. However, they will then give every household in the borough 2 per cent back using money from their reserves. This unique scheme was first introduced in the previous year, costing £2.75 million, and is estimated to cost £2.8 million for the upcoming year.
The government has made it clear that they will not provide additional funds to cover any funding gaps resulting from councils not increasing Council Tax by 4.99 per cent. Therefore, it is crucial for the council to find alternative ways to balance their budget and continue providing essential services.
If the proposals are approved at the budget setting meeting in February 2024, the discount will be applied to bills before they are issued in March 2024. This means that Band A homes, which represent 53 per cent of households in the borough, will only have an additional charge of 83 pence per week. It is important to note that the discount will not apply to empty properties.
Councillor Neil Emmott, the leader of the council, emphasized the importance of protecting frontline services while also providing relief to residents facing a cost of living crisis. He believes that these proposals will ensure the delivery of high-quality services while alleviating some of the financial burdens on residents.
The Council Tax proposals will be discussed at the upcoming meeting of the Corporate Overview and Scrutiny Committee on January 31, 2024. This meeting will take place at Number One Riverside in Rochdale at 6pm.