People living in Halton will see their council tax go up next month, as the local authority deals with the impact of Covid and an ongoing squeeze on its budget.
At a virtual meeting this evening, Halton Council agreed to increase tax by 4.99%, the maximum amount allowed and the ninth year in a row that council tax will have risen in the borough.
This means residents of Band A properties, who account for around half Halton’s population, will have to fork out an extra £49 a year to Halton Council.
When a proposed increase in Cheshire Police’s share of council tax is added in, many Halton residents will see their council tax bill rise to more than £100 a month.
At the meeting this evening, Cllr Mike Wharton said: "Developing a balanced budget has been harder than ever this year, given additional pressures covid has placed on council services and our finances.
"At the beginning of the first lockdown, Robert Jenrick said the government would fully fund the cost of councils supporting people through the pandemic. As the months went by, it became apparent he was not going to stick to his word.
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"As a result, we currently forecast by year end the cost to the council of reacting to the pandemic to be £2.2m higher than the funding provided by government.
"This comes at a time when the council's finances are already being stretched.
"In setting this budget, the council will continue to support our residents, businesses and the borough as we find our way out of the pandemic.
"Due to staggering government cuts, Halton has lost £52m, 31% in funding, since 2010.
"This equates to £408 per head of population."
This year is set to bring yet more cuts, with the council expecting to make £1.4m of savings mostly through changes to its education, children and social care departments.
These will include a reduction in the budget for new library books of more than 10% and removing entirely the budget for area forums to support community projects for a year.
Cllr Wharton continued: "It is this government that has put us in this position.
"Our residents will have to pay more for these essential services that should be funded by the government."
Cllr Tom McInerney added: "I don't know what the people of Halton have done to make this Conservative government hate us so much."