MK Council reveal plans to increase council tax and rents

editorial image

MILTON Keynes Council will have to make £16.7million of savings over the next year.

The authority revealed that the ‘efficiencies’ will have to be made out of a budget of £194m.

Council leader, Councillor Andrew Geary, this week announced that continued reductions in Government funding and increased demand for services mean new ways of delivering services will have to be found.

The news came ahead of a public consultation into budget proposals, set to start on Thursday, November 29 and run until February 11, 2013.

The council will also have to find a further £31m of cuts over the next four years.

As such, the draft proposals include plans to increase council tax by 1.95 per cent in 2013/14 and to up council rents by four per cent.

The council tax increase will be the first rise in three years and would add 42p per week to the cost of a Band D property. This increase would raise £1.6m across the Borough.

Council rents will cost an extra £3.26 per week if they are increased.

Mr Geary said: “We have demonstrated a good track record in managing the council’s budget since we came in to lead the council in May 2011. We have protected frontline services and our most vulnerable people, and this will continue.

“Our focus is on driving out inefficiencies in service delivery and reducing overheads because this is the best way to secure value for money for taxpayers.

“There will be difficult decisions to make, but we will make these in consultation with local people and agencies in order to best act on their concerns and priorities.

“In setting the budget it is important to take a longer term view to ensure sustainability of services in the future. This has too often been neglected in the past. The budget we set for 2013/14 will put us on the road to stability for the future. We understand that quality of service and citizens’ experience of these services is key.

“For example, we have listened to the concerns about grass cutting, maintenance of open spaces and the poor state of roads and footways.

“To secure improvements here, we will be considering how grass cutting and related services are delivered and we are investing in highways and footways in order to deliver better quality surfaces at reduced cost in the medium term.

“This makes absolute sense financially and will make a visible difference to citizens – in other words a win/win situation all round.

“I want to assure people we take budget setting very seriously, because we are making decisions which affect peoples’ lives and spending taxpayers’ hard-earned money to do this.”

He said the proposed savings were ‘tough but do-able’ and that MK will continue to have one of the lowest council tax rates in the region.

“Raising council tax is a really difficult choice but 1.95 per cent is below the rate of inflation and we have not had an increase for three years,” Mr Geary added.

“Faced with significantly reduced government funding now and into the future we believe it is the right thing to do.

“It helps the council to maintain core services to all citizens and protect those in most need, now and into the future.”

Final budget recommendations will be received by Cabinet on February 13, 2013 and decisions will be made by full council on February 20, 2013.

A full list of the current proposals can be found on the council’s website while the consultation documents will appear online from November 29.