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District council look set to raise council tax

The Cabinet at Stratford District Council is calling for a 1 per cent rise in council tax to help fund affordable homes and tackle homelessness.

The rise, which is set to be recommended at the Cabinet meeting on Monday, would lead to an increase of £1.36p on a Band D property.

A statement from the council explains that the rise would be a third of the rate of inflation (3 per cent).

The extra money will help the council explore the possibility of establishing an affordable homes housing company and prevent homelessness by increasing additional capacity for the Citizens Advice Bureau, which prevented 69 families from becoming homeless last year.

Temporary housing for residents who are deemed homeless will also be paid for through the rise.

Cllr Chris Saint, Leader of Stratford District Council explained: “Whilst the District Council is facing inflationary pressures of over 2% increase for pay and contracts, The Cabinet recognises that family budgets are under significant financial pressures, which is why we are proposing to fund the revenue gap using our reserves to minimise an increase for next year.

“Reserves of £9 million have been built up over a number of years within the financial strategy and reflect our prudent and sound financial management, in anticipation of challenging times.

“However, it will ultimately be for elected councillors to decide on any increase at the Full Council meeting on Monday 26 February 2018. Funds from reserves are also being allocated to help the homeless, for bed and breakfast costs, as well as initiatives that will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of our services.”

The decision to recommend a tax increase has faced criticism from opposition councillors

Cllr Peter Moorse, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said: “Some residents might wonder why

the Conservatives are so keen on pushing council tax up, with the cash sitting in the council’s bank account, rather than leaving the money in residents’ accounts.

“With all the extra reserves they’re accumulating, it will be interesting to see whether they

propose any increase in 2019, before the next district council elections.”

Cllr Moorse added that the Conservatives promising at the last district council elections to keep council tax unchanged.

The rise will have to be agreed by full council at a later date.

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