FAMILIES in Leeds face inlation-busting hikes of almost £80 to their council tax bills next year, after the city’s final budget for the coming year was approved.
The 4.99 per cent rise in the council element represents a £63 annual increase for people in a band D property and will add £17m to the public purse next year in total.
Also pushing bills up from April will be the West Yorkshire Police precept- a taxpayer contribution to the overall police budget - which has been set at £163 for a band D property. This is an increase of £12 and will raise £7.7m in extra revenue for the force. The West Yorkshire Fire Service precept is also going up slightly, by almost £2 to £62.72 a year, meaning Leeds families in a band D home are looking at around £77 being added to their bills in 2018/19. This average figure will vary slightly for people in other property bands, and for those paying parish/town council precepts.
The city’s overall revenue budget for the new financial year - which starts on April 1 - is just under £511m.
This represents Leeds City Council’s general fund, the money it will have coming in or needs to find for spending on key services. This includes income from council tax, business rates and the Government’s annual revenue grant. It does not include rent from council housing tenants
Leeds’s annual Local Government Settlement was cut by £14.1m this year, adding to more than £200m of Government funding cuts since 2010.
There was some good news ahead of this week’s final budget-setting, with the city being successful in a pilot scheme to keep 100 per cent of its locally collected business rates. It will bring an extra £15m into the city coffers,
But overall, the picture is still a fairly gloomy one, with £38m of savings needing to be found.
The council’s chief finance officer Doug Meeson, writing in the final budget report, said the financial climate for local Government “continues to present significant risks” to the council’s work.
“The council continues to make every effort possible to protect the front line delivery of services,” he said.
“Whilst we have been able to balance the budget each year since 2010 and continue to deliver a broad range of services despite declining income, it is clear that the position is increasingly challenging to manage.
“Looking ahead over the medium term, it will be increasingly difficult to maintain current levels of service provision without significant changes in the way the council operates.”
Meanwhile the budget brought mixed news for council housing tenants, with a small reduction of one per cent in dwelling rents in non PFI areas but a three percent rise in PFI areas.
There was also a 3.9 per cent rise in district heating charges, and other small increases in service charges which were capped at £5.
Council housing is funded by a special housing fund, which operates separately from council tax and the specific services it pays for.