Clare Burnett

Member Article

North Yorkshire County Council rethinks 3 year council tax freeze, with 1.99% planned rise

Members of the Executive of North Yorkshire County Council today agreed a budget that will lead to radical changes in services in order to bring about “unprecedented” levels of savings.

After three years of frozen council tax bills, the Executive agreed to recommend a 1.99% increase.

The final decision on savings will be made at the council’s quarterly meeting on February 19th.

If approved by the full county council the move would produce income of around £4.6m, to set against a budget requirement of just under £373 million.

Even with a tax increase, the council will need to take more than £1.3 million from its reserves.

Since 2011, North Yorkshire County Council has implemented and made plans for total cuts in its spending of around £170m.

A programme of savings totalling £94m is already in train, including cuts of approximately £20m which take effect in the 12 months beginning this April.

The savings represent a reduction in the council’s spending power of approximately 34% at a time when the demand for the services it provides is continually rising.

Richard Flinton, the council’s chief executive said: “The sheer enormity of this budget and the challenge it sets out for us is unprecedented in the life of the county council.”

“We cannot address this level of saving through year-on-year piecemeal cuts. What this budget sets out is a very significant programme of change.”

The council is preparing plans to deal with austerity measures which are likely to continue at least until the end of the decade.

The programme – “2020 North Yorkshire” - envisages a smaller council, described as being “more flexible and agile, enabling and supporting others, particularly within local communities, to deliver for themselves, and providing strong leadership on issues which are important to the people of North Yorkshire.”

The savings already achieved have been overwhelmingly targeted at ‘back office’ and management structures.

The budget recommendations to be considered next week will inevitably result in some front line services receiving less money.

“We will of course try to mitigate the impact of these savings on our communities” said Cllr Carl Les, Executive Member for Central and Financial Services and North Yorkshire’s deputy leader, at the meeting.

“But with 34% of spending power taken out of the authority through these cuts, we cannot deliver services as we have in past and there has to be radical change in the way we do things.”

Read the full changes and statement here.

This was posted in Bdaily's Members' News section by Clare Burnett .

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