Saturday, 21 July 2018

Council tax to rise again despite cuts to some key services

RESIDENTS of Henley and South Oxfordshire are to pay about £25 more in council tax.

RESIDENTS of Henley and South Oxfordshire are to pay about £25 more in council tax.

From April 1, people living in a typical band D property will pay £1,533.44.

South Oxfordshire District Council has reduced its share of the overall bill by 2.5 per cent for the second year running to £117.62.

But Oxfordshire County Council has increased its share of council tax to £1,184.83, an increase of £23.12, as has Thames Valley Police, which will charge £157.38, an increase of £3.08.

Henley Town Council is increasing its share of tax by almost two per cent to £85.16, a rise of £1.65. However, the council’s precept is £1,000 less than last year at £467,700.

Many parish councils in the area have decided to increase their precepts with the average share being £73.61.

The biggest rise is in Sonning Common at 25 per cent, or £13.70 a year extra for a band D property. The council says it will use the extra £16,500 in revenue to fund improvements in the parish.

Neighbouring Peppard Parish Council voted to impose a 20 per cent rise in its tax demand. This will deliver an extra £4,547 in revenue which the council says will be used to pay for improvements.

The county council is making further cuts to frontline services as it bids to save £200million by 2017.

These include £28.7million 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 £1million 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 £1.4million into children’s social care works after a rise in the number of referrals.

Council leader Ian Hudspeth said: “To protect vital services, we have increased council tax by 1.99 per cent — well below the rate of inflation. I know any rise is unwelcome but the alternative is cuts to vital services. We have balanced the need to protect the most needy and vulnerable, with our ambition to see Oxfordshire continue to thrive through hard work and economic growth.”

Councillor David Dodds, cabinet member for finance at the district council, said: “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.”

Reading Borough Council has agreed a council tax increase of 1.9 per cent, meaning residents of Caversham in a typical band D property will pay £1,531.34.

Wokingham Borough Council has agreed its first rise in three years, meaning residents in a band D property in Wargrave, Remenham, Charvil and Crazies Hill will pay £1,222.50 a year, a rise of 45p per week.

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