Dorset Council has set out its initial proposals to raise the cost of council tax for residents from April 2023.
The plan is to increase funding to Dorset Council by 2 percent and to increase the adult social care levy by 2 percent – a total rise of 4 percent which is below the maximum 5 percent cap imposed by central government but more than last year’s increase.
The proposals will have to be agreed at Dorset Council’s full council meeting at County Hall in Dorchester in February 2023
Majority of council tax goes to Dorset Council
The money raised via a council tax bill goes to fund Dorset Council, adult social care, the Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Dorset and Wiltshire Fire and Rescue, and the local town or parish council like Swanage Town Council.
However the majority of the bill goes to Dorset Council so its increase has the biggest impact on the amount residents have to pay. The council says that the proposed increase would cost £1.41 extra per week for a Band D property. It spends the most amount of its money on adult social care.
Last year’s 2022/23 bill, which was set amidst the economic crisis brought about by the pandemic, saw a 2 percent increase on the Dorset Council levy but only a 1 percent increase on the adult social care levy. This year the adult social care percentage increase has doubled.
The plan avoids cutting services like libraries
Balance the books
The council says the overall 4 percent increase will allow it to balance the books without cutting services like libraries or highway maintenance, unlike other county councils.
It has also flagged up that this decision is against a national background of extreme pressures for councils, including high inflation which affects the cost of delivering council services, and also the continued growth in need for social care services as a result of the ageing population.
“Our overriding aim is to protect the essential frontline council services”
Councillor Gary Suttle, who is Dorset Council’s portfolio holder for finance, commercial and capital strategy, as well as Swanage’s elected representative on the council said:
“We have carefully developed proposals to deliver a balanced budget, in a national context of significant financial challenge. Our overriding aim is to protect the essential frontline council services on which local residents and businesses rely.
“The proposals do include a council tax increase, however we have kept it to the minimum possible, despite the current high level of inflation. We continue to provide financial support for those hardest hit.
“Since becoming a unitary council in 2019, we have made efficiency savings of £76 million, and this money has been reinvested to protect frontline services, including funding the growing need for adult social care with our ageing population.
“Our prudent budget management has meant that Dorset has not faced the same cuts to essential services as many other areas.
“However, we continue to lobby the government for fairer funding for Dorset so that we can reduce the burden on local taxpayers in future.”
Proposals to be scrutinised
These proposals will be considered by two Dorset Council scrutiny committees, before being submitted to Cabinet on 23rd January 2023, and then to Dorset Council’s full council meeting in February for final approval.
Any local resident may voice their opinion on the subject in the allocated public time at the start of the meetings by making a request to speak via email no later than two clear working days before the council meeting.
Swanage Town Council still to make a decision
Swanage Town Council levy has yet to be set
Last year Swanage Town Council increased its levy for 2022/23 by a surprising 9.5 percent per household despite receiving more money than expected in car parking revenue.
It hasn’t yet set its rate for 2023/24 but it is expected to do so over the next month.
- The full Dorset Council report on the recommended council tax increase is available to read on its website