Should Council Tax Go Up

Sefton Council is to hold a consultation asking the question – should the borough’s Council Tax go up?

Sefton is looking to gauge the reaction from its residents as it looks to save £50m over the next two years as a result of reductions in Government funding. This is in addition to £64m already saved and equates to a total reduction of its budget by around 42%.   Sefton’s Council Tax has been frozen for the last 2 years which means savings have had to be found by reducing costs and services.

Through this consultation, Sefton Council is looking to see if people feel it is appropriate to pay a relatively small amount extra each month to protect some services from further cuts.

A number of service reductions have already been made and a wide-ranging consultation on millions of pounds worth of further cuts is ongoing.   But, as a growing number of people react to the loss of services in the borough, Sefton Council feels it needs to find out if people are willing to pay a little more to see if this would lessen the impact on some services.

Cllr Peter Dowd, Leader of Sefton Council, said: “Everyone knows that we are having to make unprecedented cuts to services because of the significant reductions in Government funding.

“It would seem from the Government settlement last month that the situation is only going to get worse. We are now at the point where there are very few efficiencies to be found and the only way to meet these targets is to identify more service cuts. If residents were prepared to pay a little extra Council Tax, some of these service cuts could be avoided.

“We are listening to the responses to our wider consultation and will continue to listen. But it is clear from a lot of the public reaction that many of these service reductions are not acceptable for residents or businesses.    “It would be great to just say ‘we are not going to reduce the budget’, but we can’t do that because these savings are a direct reaction to the reductions we have had from Government funding and the council has to set a balanced budget.

“The consultation should give us some idea if people are willing to pay maybe £1.50 more per week in order to give us the money to ensure some services continue. If people say ‘yes’ then this is something we could consider providing Government rules allow us to do it.”

A rise of £1.50 per household per week would mean that around £6m could be generated every year. This would reduce the amount the council has to save from areas such as libraries, support services for young people, services for people with disabilities, parking charges, charging people for care services including community meals, road maintenance and increases for burial costs.

Sefton is specifically asking three simple questions in order to monitor whether Sefton people would have an appetite for spending a little more on their Council Tax to support some of these services.   The Council Tax consultation is live from January 15 and includes phone surveys and the opportunity to respond online. It will close at the end of the month.

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