Residents may be aware of the government’s plans to abolish the national Council Tax Benefit scheme in April 2013 and replace it with a Local Council Tax Support Scheme.
The introduction of this scheme has changed the way in which the Parish Council is funded. It has led to a substantial reduction in the Council’s tax raising ability (known as the precept) of over £16,803.40 and although the government has provided a compensatory grant to offset this loss, there is still a shortfall.
The situation has been compounded further following the withdrawal, by Durham County Council, of the Parish Council’s Double Taxation Grant of £1,095. Overall the Council faces a reduction in income as a result of matters over which they have no control.
In setting the budget for forthcoming financial year, Members were conscious of how difficult residents are finding the current economic situation and hoped to keep the precept to an acceptable level. However, there are items of one- off expenditure, such as the forthcoming local council elections in May 2013 which need to be accounted for. Council reserves are being set aside to fund a new play area in the village and wish to continue to improve the environment for residents with floral displays etc. The Council shall also continue to provide its annual free of charge Firework Display for the community.
Taking into account the changes the government has introduced and to raise the level of funding as received in the previous financial year with only an inflationary increase, as with the previous 5 years at least, residents will see an increase in the proportion of their Council tax bill which is paid to the Parish Council. As an indication a property listed in valuation Band A will equate to an increase of approximately £13.06 per year.
The Parish Council is not immune from the government’s austerity measures. It faces an uncertain future. No guarantee has been given by either the government or Durham County Council that the compensatory grant, which is being paid in the forthcoming financial year, will be awarded in the future. During the next year the Parish Council has committed to undertake a thorough review of all of its spending on facilities and services to ensure it has a viable strategy in place to meet future financial challenges.
Published 24th April 2013