Council tax set to rise again in County Durham

Families in County Durham are braced for yet another year of council tax rises as spending cuts pass the quarter of a billion mark.

Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 2:07 pm
Updated Wednesday, 12th February 2020, 4:34 pm
Picture c/o Pixabay

Bosses at Durham County Council have agreed their finance plans for next year, with annual bills set to increase by more than £60 on a band D property, equivalent to about an extra £1.22 per week.

The four per cent hike, the maximum allowed by law, is due to be given the final seal of approval when the full county council meets on Wednesday, February 26, and does not include further ‘precepts’ for parish council, police and other services, which also make up the charge.

But the decision on the local authority’s 2020/21 budget includes measures which will amount to £250 million cut from the books in less than a decade.

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And the axe is expected to keep falling, with more than £30 million more predicted to be slashed by 2024, taking total savings up to £282 million.

“We hope austerity is at an end, as has sometimes been trumpeted, but we don’t know,” Coun Simon Henig, the leader of the council, told this morning’s (Wednesday, February 12) meeting of the ruling cabinet.

“However, we are able, this year, to be able to put forward our priorities on a one year basis, our towns and villages, our neighbourhoods and highways, our resources for cleaning up our areas and also our responsibility to climate change.”

Despite the cuts, the county’s Council Tax Reduction Scheme, which offers 100 per cent exemptions to eligible households, will be kept.

And families can expect further improvements in the form of pothole repairs, more neighbourhood wardens and renovated and rebuilt leisure centres, among other schemes.

“Next year we have some money to invest after a decade of austerity,” said Coun Alan Napier, deputy leader of the council, “and these investments are only possible because of how this council has managed the budget in very difficult circumstances.

“Investment plans are clearly set out focusing on the services people value and which we have worked hard to protect.”