Eastleigh Borough Council claim they have, for the 15th year in a row, delivered a ‘real-term cut’ in Council Tax for residents after a meeting of the Full Council on Thursday evening agreed the authority’s budget for the coming year; but Eastleigh Labour party say increases in council service charges will hit the poorest in the borough the hardest.
For 2018-19, the average Borough Council element for a Band D household will be £128.93 (it was £130.07 in 2017-18) or just under £2.50 per week. Less than an eighth of the total Council Tax bill for Eastleigh Borough residents goes to the Council.
The Council said revenue it receives from its property portfolio plays an important role in keeping Council Tax bills low, and is projected to be a net £10 million in 2018-19. An ongoing efficiencies strategy has also delivered significant savings.
In a statement Council Leader, Councillor Keith House who heads the Liberal Democrat ruling group said:
This year’s budget is confirmation that Eastleigh Borough Council’s finances are in good shape. A combination of income from our property portfolio and a robust efficiencies strategy is delivering real-term cuts in our element of the Council Tax bill for residents. We have achieved this without the programme of service cuts that other local authorities have had to put in place simply to balance their budgets, and we are increasingly independent of wider central government support, which has declined from £7.7 million in 2010-11 to £3.7 million.
But a spokesman for Eastleigh Labour Party told Eastleigh News:
Council Tax can be a significant financial burden, particularly for lower income households. Therefore Eastleigh Labour Party welcomes this freeze in rates. However, we are well aware of the increases in other charges such as large waste removal, garden waste collection and burial fees. These high charges are the same for all no matter how high their income, and hence are even more regressive than Council Tax.
Councils do have the power to lower council tax for lower priced houses and increase it for those who can afford it in higher priced houses. This is something that could increase tax revenues and therefore reduce these one off charges, or even build some much needed Council Houses.