Fareham council approves council tax hike with households facing £170 bill
COUNCIL tax is set to go up in Fareham as councillors grapple with the financial blackhole left by the coronavirus pandemic.
All homes are set to be hit by the increase, which works out a £5 hike for band D properties, meaning owners now face a bill of £170.22 for the borough council’s share from April 1.
This is only part of the total bill though, with the lion’s share being levied by the county council and payments also going to the police, fire service and any parish councils.
More than 50,000 properties within the borough will see an increase on their payments to the local authority.
It is the second year in a row that the council has increased the tax bill to the maximum limit allowed without triggering a borough-wide referendum.
But Fareham continues to have the fifth lowest council tax for a district council in England out of more than 200 authorities, according to the council’s executive leader, Councillor Sean Woodward.
Cllr Woodward: ‘This has been an unprecedented year and the income lost and costs incurred during the pandemic, alongside a reduction in Government funding, have left the council with no option but to increase council tax charges.
‘This small increase of just 1p per day for the average home, which is Band C for council tax, is necessary to continue to give residents the high level of service they expect from the council. Fareham does however still have one of the lowest borough council tax rates in the country.’
Councillors hope that the increase will bring in an additional £259,000 to the council’s coffers.
This year’s budget has also required more than £1.8 million from the local authority’s reserves and £750,000 from government grants
But central government was to blame for the financial burden, according to the leader of the council’s Liberal Democrats, Councillor Roger Price.
Cllr Price said: ‘We blame the Conservative government for most of the difficulties because they have dilly-dallied with decision-making, causing problems for local government.
‘For instance, at the start of the Covid-19 outbreak they said all costs incurred by local government would be reimbursed, yet we still expect to have a deficit of about £2.5m to find from balances over this year and next year.’
Projections show the council facing a shortfall of £1.7m in the coming four years.