Surrey County Council has announced it is planning to put council tax up by 1.99% for next year.
The proposal was put forward today as leader of the council David Hodge said increasing numbers of vulnerable people and a leap in school pupil numbers was adding to “enormous” pressure on services. He said the proposed increase would allow key services to be preserved as the council continues to face the challenges of rising demand and shrinking Government funding.
The increase figure of 1.99% is just below the threshold set by the Government that would trigger the need to hold a referendum.
Surrey County Council defied the Government's call for a council tax freeze last year as well – again just ducking the referendum threshold.
Coun Hodge said: “We’re proposing a 1.99% increase even though we’ve said we need 2.5% because any more means wasting up to £2 million on a referendum, and while it puts more pressure on services, we’ll still be able to provide what residents expect with this increase.”
Coun Hodge said: “With the number of vulnerable adults we help increasing by 1,000 over the next three years at a cost of £25 million, and a leap in pupil numbers meaning we need to spend £327 million on school places by 2019, the pressure on services from demographic changes is enormous.
“On top of these challenges, we have to cope with the impact of other costs that are also completely out of our control, such as the bill of up to £10 million to fix our roads after the recent floods, and the £5 million we spent last year on repairing the damage caused by ice and snow.”
The council has stated that despite making savings of £200 million since 2010, all of the savings have been wiped out by a dwindling Government grant and increasing demand for services. The council has identified a further £200 million of savings over the next four years but stated the pressures will remain.
The council’s Cabinet will meet to make a formal recommendation on the proposed council tax increase on Tuesday, February 4.
The final decision will be taken at a meeting of the full council on Tuesday, February 11.