Havant councillors approve £5 council tax increase as £2m budget shortfall looms for 2021

HAVANT councillors have unanimously approved a £5 increase in council tax as their authority gets set to face a £2m shortfall next year.
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Havant Borough Council leader, councillor Michael Wilson, said the 2.45 per cent hike meant his authority was able to return a balanced budget with 'no services cut'.

It marks the council’s third increase to its council tax in as many years – after nine years without a rise – and takes its share of the bill to £209.48 a year for a Band D property.

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Councillor Terry Hart, one of two Labour members in opposition to the council's 33 Conservative representatives, said the increase was a necessary evil as the result of 'unfair funding' from government.

It comes as the council reels from the loss of the government’s revenue support grant, which was previously worth £1.4m in 2016/17 and £290,000 in 2017/18.

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Cllr Hart, who represents Bondfields, said: 'Our precept increase is very low considering most of the services people see in the borough are delivered by this council.'

He added: 'All of this is being brought on by a lack of fair funding by central government - I feel that sentiment is also being shared at Hampshire as well.'

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Hampshire County Council revealed in 2017 it would have to make £140m savings because of a mammoth cut in government funding.

The rise in council tax also went unchallenged by Battins UKIP councillor Malc Carpenter, who said his Leigh Park constituents would ‘suffer greatly’ when council tax was raised by £5.95 last year.

On the council’s handling of the budget, he said: ‘They have excelled and I have no hesitation supporting the budget this evening.’

The increase follows a decision to raise Hampshire's police and crime commissioner’s council tax precept by £10 a year earlier this month.

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Equalling 83p a month, the increase will support the recruitment of an additional 156 new police officers in the county.

The changes mean a Band D property in Havant will yield an annual council tax bill of £1,776.28.

Havant Borough Council will get an additional £318,000 a year after increasing its own precept.