Further council tax hike in Dudley fails to signal end to cuts
Council tax in Dudley is predicted to rise by nearly three per cent next year but will still not be enough to avoid another round of cuts in services, councillors have been warned.
The prediction came in a report to the borough’s audit and standards committee.
Council chiefs are hoping they can protect front-line services by making internal savings.
The proposed rise of 2.99 per cent would see council tax increasing by £46 to £1587.84 a year for band D homes.
Council officers have predicted spending next year for all services – with the exception of housing – will be £243.7m compared to an expected income of £234m – a shortfall of over £9m which will be made up by cash from reserves.
However, officers have warned: “Based on the forecasts, pressures and savings proposals set out above, we are forecasting deficits in all future years.
“While these deficits can be met from reserves over the next few years, this is unsustainable in the longer term.”
“There is therefore a need to identify further savings and/or additional income in order to ensure that prudent balances are maintained,” stated the report.
Councillor Steve Clark, cabinet member for finance and legal services, has said the council faces a tough year but he was absolutely confident it would deliver a balanced budget.
He added the authority was already making savings through a new procurement unit which has helped reduce the cost of contracts and supplies whiles changes to a voluntary redundancy scheme had lead to smaller payouts to departing staff.
“We are still having to tighten our belts and I do believe that council tax will have to go up by 2.99 per cent in order that we do set a legal budget,” he said.
“However, it isn’t easy doing that.
“The savings will be more internal efficiencies rather than having to close libraries and museums.”
He added: “We have stopped a lot of outside consultants coming in and effectively draining our budget and our officers have stepped up to the mark and are working hard to ensue they are doing the job well.”