Derbyshire Dales residents will hear for the first time this evening (Monday 2 February) that your District Council intends to freeze its share of Council Tax bills for a fifth consecutive year.
The proposal – subject to agreement by councillors on 5 March – bucks the trend in Derbyshire, where both the County Council and Police have announced near 2% increases for 2015/16.
The District Council, which collects Council Tax on behalf of all local authorities but only spends 12% of the total (Derbyshire County Council's share is 70%), will be explaining at a 7pm community forum at our Ashbourne Leisure Centre tonight how it is managing to provide services to local people at an average cost of just 50p a day – despite the continuing squeeze on its finances.
Services provided by the District Council include affordable housing, business support, leisure centres and health initiatives, waste and recycling collections, parks maintenance, street cleaning and leading on crime prevention initiatives.
A near £0.5m (13.8%) central government grant cut in 2015/16 comes on top of grant reductions of a 10.8% last year and 15.6% in 2013/14 – but the District Council is pledging there will be no significant service reductions in the coming year.
Local Council Tax payers will not be asked to fund grant cuts. Instead the District Council will claim the 1% equivalent Council Tax increase incentive offered by central Government to local councils that freeze charges - and continue to identify savings through a comprehensive review of all its services.
Successive government grant cutbacks mean the District Council needs to make additional ongoing savings of £1.2 million over the next five years.
Savings of £475,000 a year have already been identified following completed reviews of its administration service, leisure service, tourism service and discretionary grants, and from a merger of its grounds maintenance and street cleansing functions. These ongoing service reviews and other measures are helping the District Council to keep Council Tax increases to a minimum.
There will be two more chances to view and comment on the District Council's spending plans presentation after tonight at community forums at Matlock Town Hall on 9 February and at our Bakewell Agricultural Business Centre on 16 February. The presentation can also be viewed online.