Council tax rise confirmed in Derbyshire Dales

Derbyshire Dales councillors have voted unanimously to increase by 10p a week the amount the average local household will pay from 1 April for District Council services.

The increase in 2019/20 - £5 per year more for a Band D property - was approved across all parties and independent members on Thursday 7 March at the authority's annual budget meeting, which can be viewed again on the council's YouTube channel.

Leader Councillor Lewis Rose OBE told the meeting that the council's aim must be to keep the Derbyshire Dales as one of the best performing small rural districts in England for as long as possible, adding: "We need to continue to punch above our weight, to give value for money and do more for less and maintain as many front line services as we can."

Services provided by the District Council include waste and recycling collections, keeping streets clean, maintaining more than 30 parks and gardens, crime prevention and health initiatives, planning, licensing, helping local business and supporting local people at risk of homelessness.

The District Council collects Council Tax on behalf of other authorities but keeps only 11% of the total. The bulk of residents' Council Tax cash goes to Derbyshire County Council (70%), while Derbyshire Constabulary's share in 2019/20 will increase to 12%. The remainder funds the fire service and local town and parish councils.

The majority of homes in the Derbyshire Dales are rated in the lower bands A-D, and the 2.45% increase will see a Band D property paying just over £209 a year for District Council services.

Councillor Rose, whose budget speech is available to read in full at www.derbyshiredales.gov.uk/Budget2019, thanked fellow councillors for their cooperation in reaching difficult decisions. "We might not always agree, but at least here in Derbyshire Dales we have sensible debates about these tough decisions," he said.

"Whilst this will be our fourth Council Tax increase in nine years we need to remember that for five years prior to 2016/17 we froze Council Tax in the Dales, which was no mean achievement.

"The inflation rate and cost of providing services over that nine year period bears no comparison to this modest request and it only goes to prove that we have worked hard to reduce costs and make savings in many ways as well as increasing income to help balance the books.

"I have not been afraid from time to time to criticise Governments of all political colours when they have not treated district councils fairly or have ignored the extra costs of providing services in sparse rural areas such as ours. We must therefore give credit to the SPARSE Rural Group for making it so clear that rural areas in particular have been worse hit than urban areas.

"We need to continue to lobby the Government and make it clear to our MP that rural areas like ours need to be properly recognised, as extra costs are incurred."

Among significant future challenges for the District Council, Councillor Rose listed the procurement of new waste and recycling and revenues and benefits contracts and the legal obligation to find a permanent site in the Dales for Gypsies and Travellers.

He added: "There is no room for complacency and we are all very conscious that the amount we will receive in future years continues on its downward trend. This means all the effort we have put into finding savings must of necessity continue in earnest."

Council Tax will fund only a third of the authority’s total spending (excluding housing benefits) of £17.6 million in 2019/20. The biggest contributor to local services will be fees and charges (41% of the budget), with 17% coming from Business Rates and only 8% from central Government grants.

Waste & recycling collections account for the largest share of Council spending (23%), followed by keeping streets and parks clean and green (18%) and regeneration and tourism (13%).

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