Households face council tax rise as Budget is approved

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Council tax bills are to rise by 3 per cent from April it was agreed when North Ayrshire Council met on Wednesday to set its Budget for 2022/23 and build on the work it has done so far in recovering from the pandemic.

The financial fallout from the pandemic has had significant financial effect on people, businesses and organisations across the country, and councils have not been immune to that.

Having delivered vital services throughout Covid-19, councillors agreed a budget which aims to continue to help support residents through the ongoing challenges as well as protecting jobs and services.

The 2022/23 Budget – worth approximately £381 million – recognises the financial challenges faced by many residents and will propose to set up a community-based energy support scheme to help those faced by the cost-of-living crisis.

Although the scheme is in the early stages of development, the council is proposing to invest over £1.7million to work with a specialist partner to provide vital support to help residents cope with the current cost-of-living crisis by accessing grants and receiving money-saving energy advice.

In addition, for the second year in a row, it is proposed to freeze council fees and charges at the 2021/22 rate.

The Budget will also reinforce the council’s commitment to net-zero carbon emissions.

It is proposed to invest additional resources in the Council’s Investment Fund to support projects such as:

  • An i3 solar and wind technology business case development to maximise the renewable energy potential at this strategic site.
  • Expansion of EV charging infrastructure across new locations and aligned to the council’s EV charging strategy 2021-25
  • Deliver a battery storage pilot to test current available technology and to learn key lessons to benefit future renewable developments, and
  • Progress a range of energy efficiency improvements across the non-domestic estate including solar PV and LED lighting.

Following the freeze on council tax as a result of the pandemic the 3 per cent rise is widely being repeated by council’s across Scotland as is still said to be well below the current rate of inflation.

Significant efforts have been made to keep any increase as low as possible but the money raised from council tax will be crucial in helping to bridge the funding gap of £4.5million for this year alone. Any increase lower than three per cent will also have a significant knock-on effect for services in the years to come. For example, no increase in 2022/23 would require a 6.75 per cent increase in 2023/24 to recover the lost income from 2022/23 and would still leave a funding gap of £10.729m.

Over the past 12 years, North Ayrshire Council has had to cut more than £118m from its Budget and the money raised from council tax is key to the council delivering a balanced budget and maintaining frontline services.

In addition to setting the Revenue Budget, elected members will also consider the Capital Budget which supports investment in buildings, infrastructure and regeneration projects.

The Capital Budget – which will deliver a total programme worth £410m over the next decade – will play a key role in North Ayrshire’s economic recovery from Covid-19.

Although impacted by significant rising costs and inflation, the capital plan will be central to delivering ambitious and regenerative projects.

It is proposed to invest an extra £1million into improving our roads over the next 12 months, meaning roads expenditure in 2022/23 will rise to £4.8million. The extra money will bring the total planned investment in our roads planned to 2030/31 to £35.7million.