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Residents consulted over looming council tax rise
WITH council tax set to rise next year, Bucks residents are being asked for their opinion on how the extra money should be spent.
For the last four years, the government has provided councils in England with extra grants allowing them to freeze council tax rates.
But with the policy coming to an end, residents will feel the brunt as Bucks County Council confirmed it will raise the amount it charges for the household tax.
And a survey entitled 'your council, your money, your choice' was launched this week to gather people’s opinions on which areas of work the money should be spent.
Peter Hardy, Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources, said: “We need to make sure that the resources we have available are used in ways that reflect the priorities of our residents, and so it is important we have a clear view of what those priorities are."
BCC receives three quarters of the cash from council tax bills, with district councils getting nine per cent, the fire service taking five per cent and police receiving the remainder.
The council’s tax increase will only affect the portion of the bill directed to BCC, with the other authorities making their own decisions over a possible rise.
The extent of the increase has not yet been decided, with councillors planning to use the public’s survey responses to help calculate the rise.
A decision is expected in February, but any agreed rise above two per cent would force a county-wide referendum in May.
Martin Phillips, Cabinet Member for Community Engagement, said: “We have managed to keep council tax at the same level for four years, but this is no longer an option with the funding cuts imposed by central government.
“We need our residents’ help to decide how much the increase will be.
“The good news is that the council tax increase will give us additional funds to then spend on maintaining our main services to our most vulnerable people and improving the condition of the county's roads, which I know are top priorities for residents.”
The survey will be posted to a random selection of 3000 residents, along with mail-outs to community groups and businesses for their views.
In addition, a random selection of 1000 residents will be invited to take part in a telephone questionnaire.
The survey is available online at www.buckscc.gov.uk/budget and paper copies will be available from libraries, children’s centres, adult learning centres and county council offices in Aylesbury and Wycombe.
The closing date for responses is November 18, with two respondents chosen to win cash prizes of £100 each.
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