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Cornwall's council tax looks set to rise by almost 4%

Cornwall's council tax looks set to rise by almost 4%

Published by Sarah Yeoman at 4:15pm 5th February 2020. (Updated at 10:59am 6th February 2020)

Written by Richard Whitehouse, Local Democracy Reporter

Cornwall Council is set to raise council tax bills by 3.99% despite half of people responding to a survey saying they did not agree with the increase.

The council’s Cabinet will next week formally approve its budget for 2020/21 and recommend that the full council accept it when it meets at the end of the month.

Under the proposals Cornwall Council’s share of council tax will increase by 3.99% – made up of a basic 1.99% rise and a 2% precept for adult social care.

The increase is the maximum that local councils can implement without having to get the public’s approval through a referendum.

However the council's consultation has shown that it would be unlikely to get support from residents if it was put to a vote.

A report going to Cabinet states that a survey found that: "41% of respondents agreed with the proposal to increase council tax by the maximum allowed by Government without having to hold a referendum. However, 50% of respondents disagreed with this proposal, with the remainder neither agreeing nor disagreeing".

The survey also found that 44% of people were not prepared to pay anymore than the 2% charge for adult social care.

It states: "Many respondents are concerned that the proposals will lead to council tax going up at a time that wages are not. They argue that the rising costs will hit lowest earners hardest and that the council should look at other ways to raise income or cut costs. Suggestions put forward include that visitors, second home owners and wealthier people should contribute more".

Cornwall Council - County Hall

However the consultation found that many people understood that it was getting harder for the council to provide services due to reducing budgets. They encouraged the council to continue to lobby the government for fairer funding.

The feedback found that affordable housing was still a key priority for people – with concerns that young people cannot afford to live in Cornwall.

But it adds: "There are however also concerns that new housing developments mainly benefit people settling in Cornwall from outside of the area or that housing developments are being given planning permission without additional capacity being created in schools, hospitals, infrastructure and other key services".

The report also highlights other areas which are seen as a priority for residents in Cornwall.

"Many respondents urge the council to invest more in specific services, such as adult social care and health, education and culture, transportation, environment/climate change. Some argue that they would be more willing to pay an increased council tax if they were confident this would lead to better quality services".

bank notes money

While the survey had set areas for respondents to indicate what they thought the council’s priorities should be there was also an opportunity to give responses which were not categorised.

The main responses here were that “council tax should decrease” and that “spending on ‘vanity projects’ is excessive and needs to reduce”.

Some people called on the council to “stop wasting money” and cited “unnecessary” projects such as Spaceport Cornwall and the Stadium for Cornwall.

There were also calls to cut staff salaries at Cornwall Council.

Comments included: "Stop paying yourself astonishing salaries and invest the saved millions into the struggling community."

And: "Cut down on your senior staff who are being paid far too much for doing far too little!"

The Cabinet will meet next Wednesday (February 12th) to discuss the budget plans.

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