City’s residents face two per cent rise in council tax

Portsmouth Guildhall
Portsmouth Guildhall

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RESIDENTS in Portsmouth face a two per cent increase on their council tax bills from April.

The plans come as part of Portsmouth City Council’s budget proposals for 2013/14 onwards.

The council tax will be levied for homeowners living in all band house valuations.

For example, people living in properties listed in band D, valued as of April 1, 1991, will pay £1,384.16 in 2013/14 compared to £1,365.75

The increase comes after a freeze on council tax.

Councillors will meet on Tuesday to discuss the council tax increase and further budget cuts during the full council meeting.

Council leader Gerald Vernon-Jackson said ‘no-one’ at the council enjoys making cuts.

He said: ‘Everyone knows that because public spending has been cut local councils have to do their bit.

‘No one enjoys doing it.

‘It’s not what anyone became a councillor to do, to cut services.

‘The council has to operate a business and live within its means with the money available.’

But Cllr John Ferrett, leader of the Portsmouth Labour group and Paulsgrove ward representative, fears the council tax increase and reduction to council tax benefit will hit low-income families.

He said: ‘Any increase is going to have an impact. It has been frozen for the last few years.

‘While the council has been given a grant by central government, it makes an increase necessary when it is taken away.

‘We are not surprised that the Liberal Democrats have chosen to implement an increase knowing there’s no election in the city.

‘We have got concerns about low-income families who may be reliant on council tax benefit.’

Meanwhile, reacting to criticism that adventure playgrounds could close if there is a loss of contribution to their running costs, councillors have insisted they have no intention of closing the facilities.

Cllr Steven Wyllie, the council’s executive member for housing, said: “The housing budget was passed last Tuesday which made provision for adventure playgrounds.

‘There are no plans to close any site. The playgrounds are key to housing, and pivotal to local children and families.’