First Fareham council tax bill rise in eight years on the way

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FAREHAM Borough Council’s share of tax is set to rise for the first time in eight years as the authority deals with funding cuts from central government.

The grant the council receives will be cut by 42 per cent between now and the 2018-19 financial year, dropping from the current £3.2m to £1.85m.

Leader Sean Woodward said this would force the authority to raise its share of council tax for the first time in eight years so that it could protect services, a move which has attracted criticism from opposition councillors.

Cllr Chris Wood, Fareham’s sole Ukip councillor, said: ‘The government is passing the responsibility for reducing the deficit on to local councils and people; without significant council tax rises the government will effectively cripple local services.

‘I certainly could not stand in support of such appalling cuts to our council’s grant.’

Cllr Woodward said Fareham plans to raise its tax by the maximum.

He said: ‘District councils are being absolutely clobbered. We knew we would eventually lose our support and we need to make £600,000 of savings per year.

‘£60,000 equates to one per cent of council tax.

‘For the last five years we have been given grants, but now the chancellor has done an about-turn.’

He said this, coupled with expected maximum rises in police, fire and county council precepts, means average Fareham households will pay about £45 per year more.

Cllr Woodward said that the borough council’s part of this – about £5 – would protect services.

‘It is still not a lot to pay when you look at what people are saving elsewhere, such as on fuel duty and on mortgages,’ he said. ‘It is the government’s view that council tax should bear the brunt.’

Fareham Lib Dem leader Paul Whittle said: ‘The Conservative-led administration has frozen council tax for too many years against the background of reducing central grants.

‘We have argued for some time that this has been storing up a problem that would result in a crunch impact – that time has arrived.

‘It is regrettably inevitable that council taxes need to rise to sustain even the reduced services we now have.

‘It will indeed be a shock to every home and family.’

The rise will be discussed at a Fareham Borough Council meeting on Monday, and then consulted upon, before it is finally set in February.