Our executive agreed to back a below-inflation council tax rise today of 3.99 per cent, below the maximum 4.49 per cent permitted.
Our members heard how North Yorkshire can draw on reserves built up during robust savings programmes of past years to lessen the blow and help residents and the council steer through choppy waters ahead.
The Executive agreed unanimously today to recommend a 3.99 per cent council tax rise, below the permitted maximum under government rules, in order to protect resident’s pockets while continuing to meet the needs of the most vulnerable people in the county’s communities.
Such a rise will also help to maintain a sound budgetary position before the new unitary council for the county comes into effect from 1 April 2023.
Councillor Gareth Dadd, our Deputy Leader and Executive Member for Finance, said: “We have set below inflationary rises over the past 11 years when inflation has risen by 38 per cent and council tax increases by 33 per cent.
“Despite the challenges of this year with rising costs associated with high inflation and uncertainty in relation to government funding, along with the continuing “scarring” caused by Covid-19 and increased demand for services, we are in a more robust position than most other authorities. For this reason we can once more back a below-inflationary rise.
“We have tackled the savings required through the difficult years of austerity – which are still with us – in a pragmatic and early manner, squeezing £220m from the revenue budget. So we now have a pot of reserves to help us through these particularly choppy waters. We have prepared the rigging before we enter the storm – we will not be blown off course.
Councillor Carl Les, our Leader said: “We are facing an unprecedented range of risks – the continuing impact of Covid-19, harsh winters and climate change, the need for interventions to prop up social care, the escalating costs of transport for special educational needs students, to name but a few.
“These pressures are such that given the need to continue to deliver key services at a time of rising demand and the need to successfully transition to a new council, our final budget will require a higher degree of support from reserves than would otherwise be the case or is desirable. We are prepared for that.”
Cllr Gareth Dadd added: “To freeze council tax at this stage would be irresponsible and a disservice to the most vulnerable in our society; to set the budget with a maximum tax rise of 4.49 per cent would hit our residents pockets too hard. But a rise of 3.99 per cent with the option to draw on reserves when necessary, acknowledges both the financial pressures faced by residents and the vital services which deliver to our most vulnerable.”
Today’s Executive budget recommendations will be decided by the full council in February.