Rochford latest district to approve council tax hike

The average Rochford household will pay more than £250 in council tax from April after the local authority agreed a council tax hike.

It means the average band D household will have to pay £252.45 in 2023/24 for services provided by Rochford District Council. That is a 2.97 per cent increase on the £245.16 levied in 2022/23.

The council says it is necessary to avoid any cuts to its services while maintaining a working balance of £1.2m equivalent to 10 per cent of the total budget of £12m. Councils were allowed to raise council tax this year by 2.99 per cent for general council tax.

Councillor Danielle Belton, portfolio holder for climate and economy, said: “When we are talking about a 2.97 per cent increase there is never a good time to increase anything but the reason we have gone for the full amount is to create a balanced budget and our own council policy of having 10 per cent in reserves.

“Had we gone for a two per cent increase this budget would not be balanced or we would have had to cut resources, cut services or cut our capital programme or take a risk in having less in reserves than the s151 officer recommends in his capacity.

“We have not just picked the figure because it is the highest available to us. Had we not done that we would have had to balance the budget from reserves which is not a great position to be in.

“While I understand people’s reluctance to put council tax up by the maximum, to go to two per cent would save the average household 4p a week. But for that they would have to give something up and lose something from this council’s budget.”

She added: “This was not an easy decision. There is a never good time to ask for more money but when we reviewed all the scenarios the additional 4p a week seemed like a good one to make to future-proof this district and to keep producing and providing good services.”

Councillor Christine Mason, Leader, Rochford District Residents Group, said: “Looking at the overall figures they appear positive until you appreciate the impact on individual households. I believe this budget will create further hardship to many members of our community and therefore with reluctance I cannot and will not support it.”

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Piers Meyler

Local Democracy Reporter