Council taxpayers in south Lincolnshire are facing a hike in bills of nearly £50 as cash for delivering police and public services becomes scarce.
Almost £4 more will have to be found for policing Lincolnshire in 2016/17 after Police and Crime Panel members approved a Police Precept rise of nearly two per cent at a meeting on Friday.
It means that council tax bills in South Holland, South Kesteven and Boston Borough Council areas will go up by between £2.58 (Band A) and £7.74 (Band H) for the year starting in April, an equivalent of between 5p (Band A) and 15p (Band H) a week.
Speaking after the Police and Crime Panel meeting on Friday, Lincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick said: “I am delighted by the unanimous vote of the Police and Crime Panel to approve my proposals.
“This means that, again, I can honour my pledge to fund 1,100 frontline police officers and 149 PCSOs.
“The Government’s proposals for the new funding formula suggested that we would be £8 million better off as it has recognised that we have been treated unfairly in the past and have made a commitment to address that next year.
The Government has recognised that we have been treated unfairly in the past and have made a commitment to address that next yearLincolnshire Police and Crime Commissioner Alan Hardwick
“Ministers have put their faith in us to deliver one of the most efficient and effective police forces in the country and I have faith that they will stay true to their word.”
Coun Angela Newton, a member of the Police and Crime Panel and Lincolnshire County Council member for Spalding West, said: “The Home Office has accepted that Lincolnshire is probably underfunded under the present (Police Grant) formula.
“But the Government’s Formula Funding Review has not yet been not completed so we are still underfunded.”
Coun Newton and other county council members are due to meet next Friday to vote on plans for a 3.95 per cent rise in the council’s share of the precept, putting an £42.89 on an average Band D council tax bill in 2016/17.
If approved, the average Band D council tax bill in Holbeach will rise from £1,500.92 to £1,549.68 or £48.76 in 2016/17, while a household in Kirton will pay an extra £60.79 as the Band D bill goes up from 1,470.08 in 2015/16 to £1,530.87 from April.
In his February statement, Lincolnshire County Council leader Martin Hill said: “We are facing a huge fall in the grants we receive from the Government as it works to restore the public finances.
“At the same time, demand for important services like adult care is rising as people live longer and move to the county to retire.
“Then there is the National Living Wage which will drive up our costs considerably, as will a hike in National Insurance.
“As the council prepares to set its budget on February, we are having to plan for a very difficult 2016/17.”
South Holland District Council are due to decide next month what precept it will set, having either frozen or cut its council tax share since 2010.
But writing in a column for our sister newspaper, the Spalding Guardian, last month portfolio holder for finance Coun Peter Coupland said: “Councils across the country are facing cuts in Government funding and South Holland District Council is no different.
“Our funds from (central government) are going to be slashed by 24 per cent over the next four years (and) more cash will be required to balance budgets in the run up to 2020.
“Many other authorities have, and will in the future, cut services to balance their budgets and several councils will struggle to balance their budgets over the coming years.
“(But) our aim is to ensure that frontline services are not cut in the future.”
Even in Bourne, where its share of the precept is set to fall by four per cent from £26.54 in 2015/16 to £25.44 in the coming year, the total bill for a Band D property will go up by £50.66 from £1,437.59 to £1,488.25 because of higher county council, district council and police precept shares.
Coun Bob Adams, leader of South Kesteven District Council which wants to raise an extra £227,000 for services in 2016/17, said: “Lots of work has gone on behind the scenes to make savings.
“But the Government has recognised that for us to continue to provide good quality services we should be able to raise council tax by £5.”