COUNCIL tax in Barnsley is set to rise by almost five per cent over the next year – with the council leader saying that it is becoming ‘increasingly difficult’ to balance the budget.
The increase of 4.99 per cent is set to be made – and that could rise following confirmation of police and South Yorkshire Fire and Rescue precepts.
Council leader Sir Steve Houghton said the decisions the council has made will, for this year, allow the council to ensure the services residents need are viable. He admitted that it is becoming ‘increasingly difficult’ to balance the budget – and said he understands the financial pressure residents are being put under.
Over the next four years, the budget proposes to invest over £64m, including an additional £2m of council funds, for roads and highway maintenance, as well as external funding in major infrastructure improvements.
“It’s getting increasingly difficult to balance the budget,” he said. "The bulk of our revenue budget, which supports our day-to-day services, comes from council tax, government grants, fees, charges, and some proportion of business rates.
“Still, this total has not kept up with the demand for our services, the increasing price of materials and utilities as well as the cost-of-living crisis and the impact of that on you, our residents.
“In the last two years, the cost of children’s and adult social care services has risen by £40m. That stretches any organisation.
“We propose increasing the council’s element of council tax by 4.99 per cent, with most households paying no more than an extra £1.50 per week. We very much recognise the financial pressure on you and your families.
“It’s an incredibly hard decision, which hasn’t been taken lightly, but without this extra income, we would have to change or stop delivering some of our services, impacting everyone. ”
Extra funding has been announced for both adult and children’s social care, as well as improvements to the road network in Barnsley.
He added: “Our focus in Barnsley is to deliver excellent services while investing in the borough.
“We do this because we want Barnsley and its communities to thrive. We want to give people ambition and a sense of pride in where they live. We estimate that we’ll spend £35m more on day-to-day running costs next year.
“We predicted that this would be the case, and we’ve set aside some money to help pay for this extra pressure.
“While we received some additional government funding, it hasn’t made up for the huge cuts since 2010 and doesn’t cover the cost of the increased demand. Because of this, we’re delivering £8m in efficiency savings through a significant transformation programme, redesigning our services and processes and using technology to deliver better services.”
The budget will be considered by the council’s ruling cabinet members on Wednesday, before being presented to Full Council on February 29.