From Torridge Council:
|The virtual nature of Monday’s Budget setting meeting of Torridge’s Full Council reflected the ongoing influence Covid-19 has had on normal activity and the way the Council has needed to operate during the pandemic and lockdowns over the last year. Like many Councils, Torridge has needed to adapt to sudden and dramatic increases in demand for support services, rising operational costs coupled with reducing income from commercial operations which it often relies on to subsidise many of its services for the more vulnerable.|
|Central Government funding for Torridge in 2021/22 will also decline by a further £183k. Left unchecked all of this would eventually lead the Council revenue budgets into the red with the prospect of reducing or having to stop some services altogether.
Councillors spoke passionately at the meeting about the need to prevent cutbacks or any axing of front-line services, which a large proportion of the community rely on in a deprived area such as Torridge. However, the further reduction in Government funding left Councillors with no options other than to increase Council Tax to preserve this support. The increase will also underpin additional support packages and hardship funding outlined during the meeting by the Leader of the Council, Councillor Ken James, which will be introduced shortly. He spoke of a high probability that some families would require further help during the recovery phase from the pandemic and that Torridge would make sure not only that funds were available, but readily accessible to those that needed help.
A balanced approach to the funding shortfall meant that Councillors were able to limit the increase in Council Tax to £5 per year or 10p per week on a Band D property. It was also highlighted that the largest proportion of Torridge residents, around 68%, that live in Band A-C properties would pay less than the average 10p per week increase. The motion was passed by a large majority in favour of the small rise to ensure services could be maintained.
Torridge Council’s increase of £5 on a Band D property represents a rise of 2.96% with the overall rise in Council Tax for next year expected to be in the region of £95 when Devon County Council, Police, Fire, and Parish & Town Council precepts are factored in. Torridge District Council’s share of the overall Council Tax it collects on behalf of itself and these other bodies is only 8.5% or 8.5p of every pound collected.
Councillor Ken James – Leader of Torridge District Council said:
“Tonight’s meeting is the culmination of many weeks of extensive work and preparation, involving all Councillors, from every ward in Torridge. In the end the options we had were severely limited by the way in which the government expects Councils to finance their operations and our desire, as Councillors, to maintain vital services and in particular support for the more vulnerable in our communities.
There is no doubt that extra money will be needed to provide further Covid-19 community assistance in the months ahead until the economy can reopen and re-establish itself. Without adequate funding, maintaining services and the ongoing support to those in need would not be possible. The modest increase of around 10p per week is therefore both proportionate and necessary.”