Bolton Council becomes first authority in Greater Manchester to announce council tax rise
COUNCIL tax looks set to rise — but the local authority’s lowest paid staff could be given a pay rise.
Leader of Bolton Council, Cllr Cliff Morris, has said the local authority should vote to increase the household charge by 1.94 per cent from April, just below the government referendum limit of two per cent.
- Council tax recommended to rise by 1.94 per cent.
- £400,000 could be spent improving the pay of Bolton Council’s lowest paid workers.
- £1 million could be ploughed into Bolton’s main roads.
- A further £1 million could be spent on the town’s residential streets.
- Young people to benefit from £1 million of proposed funding.
- Voluntary and community groups could be given £500,000 if they are considering working with the council to reduce demand on local authority services.
- Plan to keep £3 million for “likely” shortfall in 2015-2016
It means Bolton Council is the only Greater Manchester authority to so far announce it intends to raise council tax.
Opposition leaders had argued the council should take up the government’s offer of £1 million to freeze council tax, and use part of the approximate £7 million of one-off funds available to the authority to make up the rest.
But Cllr Morris has said the authority had to prepare for a tough financial year in 2015/16 — where it will have to save another £25 million.
Raising council tax 1.94 per cent will translate to an increase of 31p a week for Band A properties, or £16.12 a year.
It will bring in an extra £1.6 million for the council. Cllr Morris said £3 million of the funds should be saved for 2015/16 — where the council is expected to have a £10 million cash shortfall.
And £400,000 should be spent boosting the pay of the authority’s employees on the minimum wage. Also included in his budget recommendation, which will be voted for at next Wednesday’s full council meeting, were plans for £2 million to be invested in Bolton’s roads and £1 million into facilities for young people.
Cllr Morris also called for £500,000 to go towards creating a hardship fund to support those affected by cuts in benefit payments, plus half a million pounds to provide support for community groups who “help assist in the reduction of demand of council services”.
He added the specifics of the funding had yet to be worked out.
Cllr Morris said: “My take on this is I’m trying to budget for the next four years, and if the government was serious they would have given this £1.6 million and put it in our base budget.
“We’re looking at £400,000 to lift our lowest paid employees to the first step of a living wage. We feel it’s the right thing to do.
“The budget is about choices, and I think there are only so many cuts we can take. Residents are telling us that they don’t want us to cut anymore.”
Councillors will vote on the leader’s recommendation at the next full council meeting, which takes place at Bolton Town Hall on Wednesday, February 26 at 7pm.