Proposed 2.5 per cent council tax increase

Council leader Marie Rimmer
Council leader Marie Rimmer

TOWN Hall chiefs are set to vote on a proposed 2.5 per cent rise in council tax for the next financial year.

But St Helens Council bosses insist that the tax hike is being forced by swingeing budget cuts from central Government.

By 2014/15 the local authority will have cut its budget by a staggering £50m - with cuts in Government grants equating to a hit of £282 per person across the borough.

Council leader Marie Rimmer said: “We have had to take a long hard look at all of our services and consider ways of making them even more efficient. We reluctantly stopped providing services where the Government took the funding away and continued to cut jobs for services that were no longer grant-funded.

“But we have done everything we can to protect the key services that support the most vulnerable people in our community, or those that promote economic activity.

“The proposal is for a 2.5 per cent increase in council tax, which would mean an average weekly increase of 37p a week on Band A. St Helens currently has one of the lowest council tax rates in the north west and the lowest on Merseyside.”

The proposed 2012/13 budget, set to be voted on by councillors on February 29, will see £46.2m allocated to adult social care and health and £31m pumped into services for children and young people.

There will also be £21.1m for environmental services, £10.9m for urban regeneration and housing, £7.2m for culture, communications and the town centre, and £9.2m for neighbourhoods, safer communities and health and other services - including benefits, taxation and registrars.

But Coun Brian Spencer, the leader of the local Lib Dems, said the proposed 2.5 per cent council tax rise was “a little high given the current economic climate” and that the council’s Government grant for 2012/13 would have been known for the last 12 months.

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