BUCKINGHAMSHIRE residents could see their council tax bill increase in the new financial year, largely due to economic strains imposed by the pandemic.

Buckinghamshire Council announced plans for a 1.99 per cent hike in basic council tax from April, together with a two per cent rise in the Adult Social Care Precept to support elderly and vulnerable people.

The latter is government proposed.

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The tax hike, announced during a Tuesday Cabinet meeting, forms part of a ‘Covid-19 response and recovery’ budget, according to the authority.

It factors an increased demand in public services and a loss of income to the council due to the pandemic normally coming from things such as business rates and fees.

While the council said it has £115,000 in planned reserves to “balance the books and reduce future identified risks”, it will also invest in schools, roads, waste, transport, housing and leisure as part of its budget proposal.

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“While we are grateful for the significant Government grants we are getting to cope with the effects of the virus, it remains incredibly difficult to deliver a legally balanced budget,” said council leader, Cllr Martin Tett.

“[The] lockdown announcement just highlights the uncertainty and the difficulty of knowing what’s round the next corner.

“That said, we believe these proposals are realistic, flexible, and most importantly, affordable to local taxpayers given the circumstances.

“Indeed, the Government proposes councils increase the amount they raise specifically for Adult Social Care by 3 per cent, however, while there remains acute pressures in [this area], we believe that this would not be reasonable given the pressure on residents’ finances as a result of Covid.

“We are therefore proposing only to increase this by two per cent, rather than the three per cent allowed by Government.

“While I see this as a budget that manages current pressures, it’s also a budget that paves the way for longer term economic recovery post-Covid, which invests in infrastructure and also puts us firmly in the starting blocks to help rebuild Buckinghamshire and importantly jobs, after the pandemic ends.”

The proposal will go before a Budget Scrutiny Select Committee next week. Findings will be presented to Cabinet on February 16 and then to full council on February 24.