Castle Point approves council tax hike

Castle Point Council has agreed to raise its council tax by almost the maximum amount permitted – and predicts having to raise it even more next year.

The increase of 2.96 per cent compared to the year 2022/23 means the average band D householder in Castle Point will have to pay £281.79, an increase by £8.10, for services provided by the district council. The maximum rise permitted is 2.99 per cent.

The council, which is being run by a new coalition of independent councillors, is also using reserves to meet its spending plans to develop a new local plan and to maintain highways rangers services after the county council to stop funding this itself.

Councillor Stephen Mountford (Cedar Hall,People’s Independent Party) said: “Above all this budget delivers. It delivers the services which are vital to our residents and the initiatives they have told us that are important to them.”

However, the council predicts a 1.2m deficit for 2024/25 which it says will be addressed with help through its transformation programme. But it is also predicting have to raise council tax next year by 2.97 per cent and the year after that by 1.99 per cent.

It adds that if nothing is done to cut costs the council faces a cumulative funding gap in the region of £20.5m over next eight years.

Councillor Godfrey Isaacs (Con, St. James’) said: “This is budget that not only has one of the highest council tax rises within its power but this proposed budget then goes on to promise this will happen again and again, year on year.”

He added: “A lot of our residents are struggling with the cost of living rises and this budget goes further and is impacting some of our residents with a cost that some of them can ill afford.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter