Council tax freeze and lower rent rise

Corby Council leader Tom Beattie
Corby Council leader Tom Beattie

Council tax in Corby is set to be frozen, rents to go up less than the Government recommends and a plan to stop £50,000 funding of three PCSOs is likely to be scrapped.

In addition borough councillors are recommending that a proposal for parking charges at East Carlton Park be ditched and that a £10,000 fund for small grants for community projects be set up.

Adrian Sibley, the council’s director of corporate services, said the cost of the changes to the budget proposals would be £63,000 but, he added: “That is acceptable and can be easily accommodated.”

The new budget recommendations were agreed this week at a meeting of the One Corby Policy Committee.

Members were told that for the first time in 10 years Corby Council has been able to budget for a contribution to the authority’s reserves, a figure expected to be about £400,000.

During a process, which has taken months, Corby Council was faced with making tough decisions to balance its budget for 2013-14.

However, the £199,000 cut in grant funding from the Government turned out to be £250,000 less than expected.

The council had proposed increasing council tax by two per cent but now the proposal is to freeze it and instead of council house rents going up by the Government-recommended 4.9 per cent, they are set to rise by 3.5 per cent. That means an average increase a week of £2.80 instead of £4.

Corby Council leader Tom Beattie said: “We have carried out lengthy consultations and listened to what residents have to say. People are facing benefit caps, welfare reforms and cuts to council tax benefits and we are trying to mitigate against this. This is a positive budget for the people of Corby. We are recommending no cuts to front-line services and no redundancies. We have made back-office savings.”

Cllr John McGhee said: “We are a listening council and we are showing our support for people in these difficult times. I would like to thank our officers and everyone involved on an excellent job.”

The changes to the budget recommendations were proposed by the council’s Labour group and supported by Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors.

Conservative councillor Rob McKellar said: “Household budgets are being squeezed every day and I wholeheartdly support the council tax freeze and the lower rent increase, as well as the continued funding for the PCSOs. I would like to congratulate officers on turning a difficult situation into a less difficult situation.”

Corby Council expects to face a £1m deficit over four years and with continuing pressures on the budget, Cllr David Sims said the authority would have to continue adding to its reserves. He said: “As a council we will have to continue looking at innovative and creative ways to increase revenue and make savings.”

The budget recommendations will go to the full council meeting on February 28.