What will you be paying in council tax this year?

By Local Democracy Reporter Trevor Bevins

DORSET Council has approved a 5% council tax rise, meaning residents will continue to pay some of the highest rates in the country, with most ‘average’ homes having to stump up more than £2,000 a year.

During the Tuesday evening debate councillors on all sides complained that the county continues to be treated unfairly by the government’s funding formula.

Littlemoor and Preston councillor Louie O’Leary was the only majority party member to hit out at the rise, claiming to be speaking on behalf of the silent majority.

He said that, although he would support the increase, it was about time the council declared a tax emergency – mindful that many will struggle to pay the new charges.

He said that the council collected the second highest council tax in the country and needed to tackle the problem.

“If things don’t change people will leave, as some young people already are…we need to see this as a priority,” he said.

Lib Dem leader Nick Ireland said despite the county having Tory MPs and the council being Conservative controlled, it was still unlikely there would be any change in the way local councils like Dorset are funded by the government.

He also warned there would be many who could not afford the increase, commenting: “It will impact greatly on many who can ill-afford it…it will be a burden which will not be welcome.”

The Owermoigne councillor said that the current year was likely to end with an £18million shortfall, money which would have to be taken from dwindling reserves, despite the council tax increase.

Council leader Spencer Flower described the budget as “most challenging”, but said that cuts to key services had been avoided. He pledged to continue lobbying for changes in local government finance.

He said that that while Dorset gets 85% of its income from council tax; other unitary councils only need to raise 67%, and while Dorset gets 14% via non-domestic income, others receive 28%.

He said there were some councils still receiving a 4% rate support grant from the government, while Dorset gets nothing.

“There is some imbalance here which I take very seriously… there is unfairness in the way the shires are funded. We need a better deal for Dorset and I will continue to lobby for that,” he said.

How much will I pay in council tax?

The Dorset Council tax share of the charges from April is made up by a 1.997% general council tax increase and a 2.995% social care precept.

For the average Band D property, the Dorset Council’s annual tax rate will be £1,779.39.

Precepts for Dorset & Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service and Dorset Police bring the total up to £2,112.85 for a Band D property, and the precept for Lyme Regis Town Council brings the final total up to £2,176.99.

The combined payments for Dorset Council, the police and fire services will vary between £1,408.57 for a Band A home to £4,225.70 for Band H, and this does not include the town council precept.

Lyme Regis Town Council has agreed to hold its precept at the same level as last year, bringing in a total of £132,779 in revenue for the council.

For an average Band D property in Lyme Regis, this equates to an annual charge of £64.14. This is between 50% and 75% lower than neighbouring towns in Dorset, with Band D properties in Charmouth paying £121.07, £185.69 in Weymouth, and £238.82 in Bridport.

What is it being spent on?

Dorset Council’s biggest areas of spending are adult social care and children’s services, accounting for £124.9million and £52.8million respectively.

Street cleansing, waste collection and disposal accounts for £27.4million; travel £13.3million; education and learning £14.4million; customer services including libraries and archives £6.5million; environment and wellbeing £5.4million; housing £3.5million; highways and parking £2.9million (although in a normal year this also produces around £6million in income); communities and public protection £3.1million; planning £3.2million; property costs £2.7million; supporting businesses and job creation £1.2million with £29.6million on corporate services and £12million on central finance.

This gives the council a total budget for the year of £312.4million.

Woodmead Halls

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