Date issued: 13 February 2020
The first Budget of the new Government could contain measures to boost local authority spending, if Chancellor Rishi Sunak heeds recommendations by Colchester Borough Council.
The council’s proposals, submitted to HM Treasury last Friday (7 February), form part of a national consultation on what should be in next month’s Budget.
The council has submitted four Budget representations, urging the Chancellor to:
- extend and enhance the New Homes Bonus
- ease the council tax referendum limit and allow councils to raise a 3% additional prevention and early intervention precept to help reduce the demand for acute social care and NHS services
- give councils increased revenue-raising powers, including powers to change council tax bandings, fees and charges, and
- offer more support for local authorities to address domestic violence
Cllr David King, Portfolio Holder for Business and Resources, said: “We welcome this opportunity to influence the Government’s spending plans and to argue the case for additional resources, so that we can continue to provide the high-quality services our residents need and deserve.
“We think it only fair and reasonable that fast-growing local authorities, like ours, should benefit from a boost to the value of the New Homes Bonus, if we are to continue to deliver the houses and development the Government stipulates and lessen the environmental impacts of that growth.
“We also urge the Chancellor to look again at council tax and not to penalise us for managing our finances prudently. Since 2010 we have frozen council tax six times and increased it only four times, but by less than the rate of inflation. This has meant forfeiting revenue that could have helped us to deliver much-needed services, compared to those councils that increased their council tax year on year.
“That is why we would now like the Chancellor to give us the freedom to raise more of our own revenue progressively, through changes to council tax bandings and fees and charges, so that we can continue to grow successfully and sustainably.”
A further Budget representation calls on the Chancellor to give more support to local authorities to address domestic violence, arguing that any investment would be more than repaid by reduced police and criminal justice expenditure.
Adrian Pritchard, Chief Executive of Colchester Borough Council, added: “Our Budget representations are realistic and practicable and, if implemented, would give us and other local authorities a great deal more autonomy and flexibility to determine the way we generate revenue and deliver services following a decade of austerity that has transformed the way we work on behalf of our residents.
“I look forward to seeing our ideas reflected in the Chancellor’s Budget speech on 11 March.”