Hull set for 1.9 per cent council tax rise as cabinet backs budget that will see more cuts

Hull City councillors will be asked to back a 1.9 per cent increase in the authority’s share of council tax charges when they meet on Thursday.

If confirmed at the annual budget-setting meeting, it would mean households in Band D properties being asked to pay £1,139.81 for council services from April.

However, the overall Band D bill in Hull will be £1,315.68 as it also includes additional charges for police and fire services.

The recommended 1.9 per cent increase was backed unanimously yesterday by the city council’s cabinet.

With up to 450 posts and many services facing cuts over the coming 12 months because of a continuing funding squeeze, city council leader Councillor Steve Brady said there were no easy decisions to be made.

“I think people understand the situation local government is in,” he said. “We are trying our very best to minimise the impact on services and on the staff who deliver these services but you can only cut your cloth so far.

“When you have only got 60 per cent of the money you used to have, reality tells you that you can’t carry on in the manner you have been used to.”

Headline savings include plans to withdraw the city’s mobile library service, reduce opening times at museums and libraries and review the provision of free transport to adult day centres.

The frequency of street cleaning and grass cutting is also set be reduced.

Unions are planning to lobby the Guildhall on Thursday morning ahead of the full council meeting in a protest over more job cuts at the authority.

Three years ago, 1,000 staff left under a voluntary redundancy scheme.

This time council officials say they cannot rule out more compulsory redundancies.

Cllr Brady claimed local government had unfairly taken the brunt of Whitehall’s austerity cuts compared with other parts of the public sector.

And he accused Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles of enjoying taking money off councils.

“Local government has taken, by far, the largest slice of cuts and the Secretary of State seems quite pleased by that,” he said.

“Normally, ministers fight for the department they cover but not this one.”

Deputy leader Councillor Daren Hale said: “This is not a budget a Labour cabinet wanted to move because of the significant impact it will have on jobs and services.”

However, he pointed to proposals to commit more than £10m towards projects linked to the City Plan and the 2017 UK City of Culture celebrations as a sign that the council was determined to improve the city’s infrastructure.

Labour’s budget proposals are being examined in-depth at a council scrutiny committee today.

Rent increase curbed

Council tenants in Hull could face a £2.50 average weekly rent increase from April.

A last-minute move by Labour councillors on the authority is expected to amend previous proposals for a £4.25 increase put forward by council officers.

The higher rate had been suggested as part of a continuing national policy to bring council and other social housing rent levels in line with the private sector.

But Councillor John Black, cabinet portfolio for housing, said the lower increase would help people struggling with the “rocketing cost of living”.

*article from hulldailymail.co.uk


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