District chiefs agree to 'modest' council tax increase
PUBLISHED: 13:05 25 February 2016 | UPDATED: 09:05 29 February 2016
Council leader says ‘money doesn’t grow on trees’ as authority ‘considers best interests of residents’
District chiefs have agreed to raise council tax for the first time in five years as they struggle to cope in ‘extremely challenging financial conditions’.
Continued reductions in grants from central government have been blamed for the increase – which amounts to £5 per year, or 10p per week, for the average property.
East Devon District Council (EDDC) has frozen its share of council tax for the last five years, but members unanimously approved the rise at a full council meeting last night (Wednesday, February 24).
Leader of EDDC councillor Paul Diviani said: “Everyone at East Devon continues to work hard on behalf of all residents under extremely challenging financial conditions.
“With further reductions to the grant we receive from central government for 2016/17 and beyond, this sets a clear pattern of having to be even more business-like, efficient and self-sufficient.
“This includes reviewing our fees and charges across the board with all EDDC-owned assets, ensuring that they provide a proper return for residents that will enable us to maintain the services they value most.
“It is never truer than now to say that ‘money does not grow on trees’ and whilst some decisions we take may be unpopular with some people, we must consider the best interests of everyone in East Devon.
“Talking to many constituents, it is clear that they support a modest increase of £5 per household, the first in five years of prudent financial management, which is something they are prepared to accept as necessary to protect the services EDDC provides and I will ensure that their money is spent wisely and appropriately.”
Cllr Diviani recognised the economy is thriving in parts of the district, but said there is ‘no room for complacency’ and the authority needs to provide conditions for developing economic growth with well-paid jobs and initiatives.
EDDC says it continues to work with other local authorities to find more efficient ways of improving services, but budget cuts across the board are putting additional pressure on the district council to provide ‘prevention rather than cure’ measures.
The new rate means a typical Band D householder will pay EDDC £126.78 a year for all its services – which is still the lowest in Devon and amongst the lowest in the country.
The council takes 8p in every pound of the total council tax bill with the rest of the money going to Devon County Council, Devon and Cornwall Police, Devon and Somerset Fire and Rescue Service, along with town and parish councils.
Cllr Diviani highlighted some of EDDC’s achievements over the last 12 months, including: investment in a Jurassic Coast discovery centre – due to open in Seaton next month – and winning national planning and housing awards for the council’s new town of Cranbrook.
An EDDC spokesman said: “If anyone thinks they are going to struggle to pay this priority bill then the earlier they talk to someone the better.
“Contact the council and we may be able to reduce the amount of council tax you have to pay, or change the date you have to pay it. We also offer free independent and confidential help and advice.”
Anyone with queries or concerns is are advised to e-mail: [email protected]
To set up a payment, visit: eastdevon.gov.uk/dd-council-tax.