Thursday, 24 August 2017

Council tax to rise

RESIDENTS in Henley and South Oxfordshire are to pay more in council tax this year.

RESIDENTS in Henley and South Oxfordshire are to pay more in council tax this year.

From April 1, the charge will rise between one and two per cent, meaning people living in a typical band D property will be charged about £20 more.

Oxfordshire County Council is planning to raise its share of council tax by 1.99 per cent, meaning the average rate will increase by about £23 to £1,185.

However, South Oxfordshire District Council is to reduce its share of the tax by 2.5 per cent, reducing the average bill by about £3.

The rest of the tax is made up of what the smaller parish councils charge and these rates have yet to be set.

Henley Town Council, which has a precept of £83.48, has indicated it is likely to increase this figure and is due to discuss this at a meeting on Tuesday.

Peppard Parish Council is expected to increase its precept by 20 per cent.

The district council?s cabinet has yet to finalise its detailed spending plans for the next financial year but has decided to make tax reduction one of the centrepieces of its plans.

Councillor David Dodds, cabinet member for finance, said: "We have managed our finances well for many years.

"It is right and proper in these difficult times that we share the benefit of that prudent management with our residents.

"In monetary terms, the reduction is small but it shows our intent. We reduced council tax this year, we are reducing it again next year and I hope we can continue to do so for the following two years as well.

"What particularly pleases me is that we can lower council tax while at the same time improving services.

"As part of the budget, I will be introducing schemes to enhance street cleaning, help first-time buyers secure mortgages and refurbish public toilets, among other things."

Meanwhile, the county council is making further cuts to frontline services as it bids to save £200 million by 2017. These include £28.7 million savings in adult social care, which will be achieved by reducing the cost of contracts as well as the number of people in care homes, the introduction and expansion of personal budgets, providing services more efficiently and working more closely with the NHS.

There will also be an £800,000 reduction in funding of its 44 children?s centres, which will be based on management changes.

The Rainbow Children?s Centres in Henley and Sonning Common will now be run by Action For Children, a national group, rather than the Henley-based Nomad youth and community project.

The council?s area stewards fund, which costs more than £1 million and pays for small-scale community highways projects, will be reduced to cover only maintenance projects and will be scrapped from next year.

However, the council is pumping an extra £1.4 million into children?s social care works after a rise in the number of referrals.

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