Wedding fees, cremation charges and market stall licences rise to help plug funding gap
Fees and charges across Wolverhampton will be increased in a bid to fill an almost £5 million black hole in the council’s finances.
A host of changes will be implemented to help tackle the deficit, which is projected to be £4.9m by 2020/2021.
Council chiefs say the move will help ease the “enormous pressure” of delivering essential services in the city.
Charges ranging from cabins at Wolverhampton market, cremations and increased fines at libraries will be put in place from November 1 – or as soon as possible after that date.
A report to the authority’s cabinet said: “An increase in fees and charges income will contribute to reducing the council’s medium term budget deficit, which is projected to be £4.9 million by 2020-2021.
“It is important to be aware that additional income from increases in fees and charges is uncertain, as the resulting impact upon demand that will arise from changes in fees and charges cannot be predicted with certainty, although this is considered during the price setting process.”
Where are fee rising?
Among the price rises are cremations for a person aged 18 and over which will now cost £825 – an increase of £50.
Tours for groups of up to 20 people at Wolverhampton Art Gallery, will cost £100 instead of £80.
Skills courses at the Adult Education Centre for an average of 60 hours will now cost £250 instead of £240.
Bilston Town Hall will now be available for civil ceremonies, with charges starting from £350 between Monday to Thursday.
And people hiring the hall for meetings will be hit by a new set-up charge of £40, with a £10 charge for each tablecloth.
Fines for late-returned DVDs per item per day will increase by 5p at libraries in the city to 40p.
Licensed cabins on Wolverhampton market will also increase depending on the size, with costs between £21 and £51.
Why are fees going up?
Councillor Louise Miles, cabinet member for resources, said: “The council thoroughly reviews the fees and charges for different services each year.
“There are essential services where we try and keep rises to an absolute minimum or even no rise at all – for example this year we are once again not proposing any increase in burial fees.
“For other services we will increase, freeze or reduce prices based on reviewing the cost of providing that service and the demand for it.
“Income from fees and charges make an important contribution to enable the council to continue to provide these services when council finances are under enormous pressure.”
Parking charges will not rise under the planned changes and further charges relating to adult care contributions, which are set in line with the national benefits system, will be subject to a separate report to the authority’s cabinet.
Street trading, hackney carriage and private hire licensing – and general licensing – will be considered by the Licensing Committee on January. A
separate report will also be filed to councillors for charges relating to leisure services provided by WV Active. Councillor Wendy Thompson, leader of the opposition on Wolverhampton Council, criticised the council’s decision to raise the feeds.
She said: “The only thing this council seems to be capable of doing is raising fees for hard working people in the city. What they are not doing is actually bringing in investment.
“With the investment they would then get the money in they need, but instead they are going for the easy way out by shoving up fees and charges.
“They have been doing this for pretty much every year for the last 100 years. They see it as an easy way of making money, but they should look bigger than that. They should up-skill people in the city – which is needed – and if that was the case we would have a far more prosperous city, which could bring in the finance to run the services properly.
“They are taking the cheap way of doing it and people are in despair about them because people work hard for their salaries, wages and income.
“They do not see it raising in the same way as those fees and charges in the city.”
The fees and charges which are set to rise have been made after careful consideration, council bosses say.