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Surrey County Council confirms Council Tax increase of 1.99%
5:00pm Tuesday 18th February 2014 in Local News
County councillors have confirmed a council tax rise for the coming year of 1.99%.
The increase was agreed at a meeting of the Full Council last week.
Surrey County Council announced it was planning to put council tax up by 1.99% last month.
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, and 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. Last month, 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.”
Other costs cited by the council as being “completely out of our control” included the bill of up to £10 million to fix county roads after the floods.
It added that despite making savings of £200 million since 2010, all of the savings had 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.