Council sets one of the lowest tax increases despite huge pressures

Plymouth households will pay an average of 121 pence a week extra next year for hundreds of day-to-day services provided by the Council, including care for the elderly and vulnerable adults.

The City Council agreed a 1.47 per cent increase in Council Tax as it set its budget for 2018/19 – lower than the increases set by many other councils across the country.

A three per cent precept on the Council Tax specifically to pay for the increasing cost of social care was also agreed.

The budget was set against a background of years of reducing funding for Council services. Plymouth’s revenue support grant from the Government has fallen from £76.6 million in 2013/14 to a projected figure of £5.6 million in 2020/21.

The Council has had to find £11.5 million of savings – 6.2 per cent of its budget – in order to deliver a balanced budget of £185.5 million for 2018/19 and has faced huge challenges such as meeting the rising costs of social care.

The Government assumed Plymouth would help fund the increasing costs of adult social care by levying the three per cent precept on the Council Tax specifically for care services, which nearly all councils that provide social care services have used.

This precept raises just over £3 million towards the £4.8 million additional costs of providing adult social care services in Plymouth next year, which are increasing due to the rising age of the population and the need to pay care staff the National Living Wage.

The Council has also had to fund an extra £3.2 million due to the cost of providing care packages and support for vulnerable children.

Councillor Ian Bowyer, leader of the Council, said: “While we do not like raising taxes, this is a huge balancing act, but one which has the most vulnerable of our city right at its heart. It will mean most Plymouth residents will pay 40 pence a week extra for council services, as well 81 pence a week extra to help pay for vital care for the elderly and vulnerable adults in Plymouth.

“While it has been really tough delivering millions in savings we have worked very hard to keep the tax increase as low as we could without damaging much needed local services. We have also been able to identify significant funding for longer term capital projects that will provide jobs and homes for Plymouth residents and projects that will help make Plymouth an even better place to live.”