Chelmsford council tax set to rise in face of ‘brutal’ inflation

The average household is set to pay an additional £6.22 towards Chelmsford City Council’s proportion of council tax in the face of “brutal” inflationary costs.

Councillors at Chelmsford City Council cabinet agreed the city’s share of residents’ council tax increases by 12p a week for a Band D home for 2023/24, raising around £400,000 for the council.

Rampant inflation has presented a huge challenge for the council like every other. In autumn 2022, forecasts predicted a £7.9 million shortfall for Chelmsford City Council in the next financial year with big energy bills a particular problem.

That has come down by £1m with the latest forecast predicting the council will have to spend £1.5 million more on energy compared to its previous estimate of having to pay £2.5m more.

It still means the council is facing a £6.9m deficit – coming from a £1.3m gap in parking income and more than £5m in inflation pressures.

Cabinet member responsible for finance Councillor Chris Davison said inflation at 10 per cent was ‘brutal’ for any local authority.

He said: “I will assert that we will continue this strong financial management that ensured that we’ve stayed well clear of the problems that some councils up and down the country, Thurrock down the road being a prime example, that have gone into financial difficulties, had to be bailed out have cut services and declared what amounts to bankruptcy.

“So we’re continuing to deliver all the key services our residents rely on.”

Councillor Roy Whitehead, leader of the Conservative group, said: “We do understand we’re all paying more for fuel or whatever it happens to be.

“So there’s nothing in here in costs that surprise me anyway at all. All the costs that are going up are the ones you’d expect to go up and all the income that’s going down you would expect to go down, car parking in particular really.”

The final decision rests with full council which will debate the proposals at a meeting in February.

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter