The Town Council met to agree its Revenue and Capital Budget and set the Precept and Council Tax increase for the forthcoming 2018/19 financial year.

Whilst in the short term, the Council’s finances remain in a healthy position, with a balanced Revenue Budget, continued delivery of savings in the current financial year, capital receipts from land sales, and healthy levels of balances and reserves, the Council is facing an increasingly challenging future, and must ensure that it prudently plans ahead for the difficulties that it will face in the coming years.

The Council is suffering year on year, cuts to the Council Tax Support Grant on which it is reliant to a total of nearly £200,000 per year. This funding is due to be cut by a further 10% next year.

The Council is also facing significant increases in its staffing costs linked to rises in the National Living Wage. The latest local government pay offer would implement a minimum local government pay rate of £8.50 per hour, with annual increases of between 4% and 9% for lower paid staff, and 2% for all other staff.. The Council employs a high proportion of staff in the lower pay grades, and this pay award will amount to a year on year increase in the Council’s staffing costs of nearly 5% in 2018/19.

The high level of inflation is also putting unavoidable pressure on the running costs of many services. The Council is also making new investment next year in opening a new pre-school setting to meet the demand for places for two year old children in Great Aycliffe, and developing a new park with play equipment and games area in the Cobblers Hall area of the town.

In order to offset these additional costs and maintain the many services already provided by the Town Council, as well as ensure that sufficient contingency resources are maintained to help deal with some of the longer term budget pressures faced, the Council has agreed to increase the Town Council Tax next year.

This decision has not been taken lightly, particularly in light of the on-going ‘cost of living’ difficulties they know are being faced by local residents, and following on from the four year freeze in council tax the Town Council was proud to deliver earlier in the decade.

The agreed increase will add £7.38 per year to the Town Council Tax Bill at Valuation Band A, which equates to 14p week.

The Council hopes local tax payers will agree this is a modest price to pay in order to ensure that all of the important services provided by the Town Council to the community of Great Aycliffe can be protected for at least another year, whilst ensuing that a sufficient level of contingency is maintained to help steer the Council through the difficult times that lie ahead.

Should you require further information on the Council’s finances and the 2018/19 budget setting process you can view detailed information on the Finance Section of Council website via the following link

Councillor Bob Fleming

Chairman of the Policy and Resources Committee and Leader of the Council