Council tax to rise in Chesterfield – as Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer accuses Government of ‘starving’ local authorities
Council tax will rise for Chesterfield residents in the next year.
On Wednesday, Labour-run Chesterfield Borough Council rubber-stamped what it called a 'small’ increase in the amount of money people pay for local services during 2021-22.
It means a rise of 6.4 pence a week for the majority of properties in the borough (band A) from April – a total increase of £3.33 on last year’s bill.
For a band D property, it amounts to 9.6 pence a week, giving an overall rise of £5 for the coming year.
In Chesterfield, the Covid-19 crisis has led to the council losing more than £7.6million in income from services it provides, including car parks, leisure centres and theatres.
The authority has applied for and received around £5m from the Government and cut costs by £900,000 – but this still leaves a budget shortfall of £188,000.
Councillor Tricia Gilby, leader of the council, said: “Increasing council tax by any amount is never a decision we take lightly, and I understand that for many people this is an incredibly difficult time.
“However, over the last year the council has faced unprecedented financial pressures caused by the impact of the ongoing pandemic.
“Even with Government grants, and the savings we have made, we are still facing a budget shortfall which must be addressed so we can provide the facilities and services that our residents and businesses rely on and at the quality they rightfully expect.”
She added: “I can assure residents that the extra cash we raise thorough the council tax increase will be put to good use.”
Coun Paul Holmes, leader of the Liberal Democrats on the council, slammed the tax rise.
He said: “Under Labour, borough council debt is soaring and future financial deficits are not being dealt with.
“Constantly borrowing more money just increases interest payments.
“Constantly hiring more staff, such as the council leader’s executive assistant, increases the salary bill and more than offsets savings supposedly to be made from voluntary redundancies.
“The answer cannot be to just dip council hands into residents’ pockets.
“Most insulting of all was Labour councillors describing the £150,000 tax take as ‘just coppers’ and saying they had ‘no remorse, no apology, for taking tax rises’.
“Labour needs to get a grip of their out of control spending, not penalise residents already hit financially by a year of Covid and three lockdowns.”
He said people had ‘lost income badly’ during the pandemic over the last year and voiced concerns about more job losses locally in the coming months.
During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer insisted ‘now is not the time’ for tax increases given the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said: “Councils up and down the country are being forced to decide now whether to put council tax up – that is a £2billion rise on families.
“I’m not blaming councils – they’ve been starved of funding for a decade and Labour and Conservative councils are in the same position.”
Boris Johnson told Sir Keir: “He vacillates, we vaccinate – and we are going to get on with our agenda, cautious but irreversibly taking this country forward on a one-way road to freedom.”