Ashby councillor Rushton admits to 'heavy heart' as county wide tax bill increase is approved

By Graham Hill

18th Feb 2021 | Local News

Taxpayers in Ashby and the rest of Leicestershire will see more than £5 a month added to their council tax bill after a five per cent increase was approved by county councillors.

Ashby councillor and leader of the county council Nick Rushton said the increase was made 'with a heavy heart'.

Councillors have blamed failure to secure fair funding and financial pressures as a result of the pandemic for the inflation-busting increase.

Council tax will rise by the maximum 1.99 per cent, while the adult social care precept has also been increased by the maximum amount allowed 2.99 per cent.

It equates to £5.59 a month for a Band D house, just over £67 a year.

But the increase only covers Leicestershire County Council's share of the bill, which looks set to rise even higher further when Leicestershire Police, the fire service and district and parish councils also confirm how much they will charge for their share of the bills.

Councillors clashed over the Tory administration's "failure" to so far secure fair funding, something they admitted would have prevented the maximum rise.

The Lib Dem lead member for finance, Councillor Michael Mullaney said opportunities had been missed to level up Leicestershire.

He said: "This Conservative administration made fair funding their flagship policy, they have mentioned it many times over the years and there were specific openings when there was real potential to secure it.

"Fair funding has been a total failure and the people of Leicestershire will be the ones who will miss out."

Cllr Rushton said that his Conservative group will not give up on their mission.

He said: "Not a day goes by that we don't continue to lobby for fair-funding.

"You're right we haven't got it so far, but we will not give up.

"We promised we would protect the vulnerable, that represents 75 per cent of our budget.

"When we had our member meeting it was exceedingly difficult to ask fellow Tories to vote for the maximum increase. It's with a heavy heart we do it. But if we want to keep our promises we have to do it."

Labour leader, Cllr Dr Terri Eynon also asked about fair funding and said other "long-promised reforms" also needed addressing.

She said: "We cannot, as a matter of principle, support a three per cent social care precept.

"We need to make it clear that we believe it is wrong, it is wrong to shift the financing of adult social care away from general taxation and on to domestic ratepayers.

"As they are not prepared to challenge the government, it is down to us to do so."

There were 34 votes in favour of the budget, 17 against.

A £450m four-year capital pot was also approved as part of the budget.

Included is £70m to improve and maintain existing roads and bridges, £120m for improving transport infrastructure, £72m for extra school places, including specialist provision for SEND students.

     

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