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Council tax rise and jobs cuts in Doncaster Council budget proposals

Doncaster Council's offices on Waterdale
Doncaster Council's offices on Waterdale

A council tax rise and more job cuts could be on the way after Doncaster Council revealed its next budget proposals.

Under draft consultation plans which will go before the full council next week, council tax payers would see a rise in their bills of nearly four per cent. And the equivalent of 153 full time jobs could be shed over a three year period running until the 2020-2021 tax year.

It comes at a time when campaigners calling for Doncaster to sign up for the Sheffield City Region claim that the region has missed out on Government cash that it would have received if it had signed up for the deal.

But Doncaster Council says devolution cash would not have affected the council budget. A spokesman said: "The gainshare would have been used for new expenditure and therefore would not have been available to meet the reduction in Revenue Support Grant (RSG).”

The final budget is due to be decided next year.

They are the latest measures planned as the council takes on Government spending cuts while also paying for a £6.2 million rise in its wage bill following the latest local government pay offer.

The report which lists the plans states: "The Council continues to face the significant challenge of setting a balanced budget with reducing funding and increasing costs, whilst continuing to invest in the borough and protecting the most vulnerable in our communities. The Council is estimating having to find £16.9m of savings in 2018/19 and £43.3m for the period 2018/19 to 2020/21. This increases the overall savings required from 2017/18 to £64.9m a year by 2021."

The budget proposals include an increase in council tax of 1.99 per cent in 2018-19, which will generate £1.97 million. The proposals also include a further increase through the Government’s two per cent Social Care “precept” which equates to £1.98 million of additional income for Doncaster and is ring fenced for social care.

It means a total rise in bills of 3.9 per cent.

Doncaster has one of the lowest council tax rates in comparison to other metropolitan districts and unitary authorities across the country - the 9th lowest in 2017/18.

There is better news for the borough's council housing tenants.

Rents will reduce by one per cent in 2018/19. But the report says the Government have announced that after 2020 rent increases can return to inflation plus one per cent, and rent increases for future years will be considered as part of budget setting.

The draft budget also includes cash for a number of high profile capital projects. They include £14 million in a new, single, central library, museum, art gallery and archives; a range of projects in the town centre related to the Urban Centre Master Plan; major transport schemes including the DN7 project and West Moor Link Dualling Road £26million; and 65 new council owned affordable homes.

Mayor Ros Jones said consultation was now starting on the planned budget.

She said: "This is a proposed budget that is intended to protect our front line services and to ensure that we keep growing our economy, that is going to bring more jobs and improve the economy.

"No one wants to increase the council tax, and everyone knows how difficult it is at present, but there are services that people want to see delivered, and we have to deliver them. But at this moment in time, we are the ninth lowest council tax of any metropolitan or unitary council.

"The council tax rise is 1.9 per cent. The two per cent for social care is money that I believe the Government should be funding."

Of the proposed job losses, she said the council would look to shed vacant posts first, and then to look at voluntary redundancies.

"Compulsory redundancies would be only a last resort," she said. "People are our most important assets."

She added: "We have had to make £267 million in cuts since 2010-11. This is a massive amount of money and shows the scale of the cuts we have had to meet while still delivering frontline services."