Monday, 2 March 2015

Keeping the Council Tax low in Frodsham

Last Thursday night, at CWaC we set the council tax for the year.  CWaC chose to freeze its element of the council tax again.
Within our Borough there are 5 elements and 4 authorities that contribute to our council tax bills.  They are:

1. Cheshire West and Chester Council.   This charge is are made up of 2 elements:
  • the main charge and
  • special expenses;
2. Cheshire Police and Crime Commissioner;
3. Cheshire Fire and Rescue Authority; and
4. Frodsham Town Council.

Frodsham is one of only 3 communities in the entire Borough where the special expenses figure is zero.  This is because we pay for things like play areas, our Christmas lights and our Police Community Support Officer via the Town Council.  Elsewhere these services which can be provided by a parish council are provided by CWaC - hence those communities being re-charged for those services.  If this didn't happen communities like Frodsham would end up paying twice.

The good news for all of us in Frodsham is that CWaC kept the council tax at the same rate it was last year. Frodsham Town Council made a small reduction in its charge.  Both the Police and Crime Commissioner and the Fire and Rescue Authority increased their charges by just under 2%.

So all this means the Band D charge in Frodsham for 2015-16 will be £1,532.99

When one compares council tax rates one uses the Band D charge. 

There are 8 council tax bands from A to H.  The charge is set at the Band D level - and the amount paid by those in the other bands (before any discounts) is a number of ninths compared with the Band D charge.  So, for example, a Band A charge is 6/9ths of the Band D charge, Band B is 7/9ths; Band C is 8/9ths.  Band E is 11/9ths, Band F is 13/9ths, Band G is 15/9ths and Band H is 18/9ths.

Now Borough councils like CWaC have 3 main sources of income.  Grants from Government, part of the Business Rates and the money raised by the council tax.

In a Borough like CWaC half the money is raised through the council tax and a third comes from government grants. In Cheshire East the percentage raised through the council tax is more than 60% of what that council spends with government grants only being around a quarter of that council's spending  However in places like Liverpool more than half of the money spent by that council comes by way of Government grants.

I was astonished during the debate when Labour Cllr Paul Dolan stood up and argued for places like Liverpool and councils in Manchester to be given yet more central government support - especially when it would be at the expense of apparently more affluent areas.  He said this even when those  areas already receive far more than us per head in any event.  In saying this, however, he was echoing what Hilary Benn MP has already said.

Hilary Benn is Labour Shadow Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government.  In August 2014 he wrote to all councils telling them that if Labour was to form the next Government they would keep to the same size budget for central government support for councils as a whole - but that money would be moved from the more affluent areas to the less affluent areas.  In my view this means a direct threat to areas like Cheshire West and Chester.  Assuming I am right Labour will look to remove more government grants from us inevitably increasing the pressure on the council tax.

The Labour councillors voted against the budget resolution on Thursday - even though it included an additional £1m of spending on the Borough's play areas.

Since 2009 all residents of Frodsham have seen their council tax fall by 14% in real terms.  Have a look at this Video for more of the details.  Labour also remains opposed to the special expenses arrangements which, as I mentioned earlier, protect us in Frodsham for paying twice for the same services.