WESTBURY Town Council is to increase its precept by 11.92 per cent, after councils across the county had their support grants cut by government.
It means an annual increase of £6.86, from £71.74 to £78.60 for Band D properties in Westbury, which works out as 13p a week, to cope with Westbury’s support grant falling from £49,225 to £31,996. The rest is expected to be withdrawn over the next few years.
Changes made by the government in the way the Council Tax Base is supported has had a financial impact on all town and parish councils.
It hits councils in deprived areas particularly heavily, because the support grant was given to cover the tax shortfall from residents with low or no incomes who could not afford to pay council tax on their properties.
A statement from the council said: “Following a comprehensive review, WTC has cut its planned expenditure in 2014-15 by £12,620, thereby limiting the amount of extra tax needed to make up for the reduced support grant.
“The 2014-15 increase will fully cover that shortfall in income. Any support grant that the council does receive from Wiltshire Council can then be earmarked for capital projects or to cover the cost of any asset transfers that WC may offer to WTC to save such services from possible closure.
“Also, there has been talk of town and parish councils being capped in the future and taking these steps now will allow WTC to work within any capped limits without having to cut any services.”
Westbury Town Council’s tax burden will still be less than four per cent of the overall council tax for Westbury households, representing a rise of 0.48 per cent on the total tax bill.
The recommendation came from the town council’s finance committee and was approved at a full council meeting on Monday, with 11 councillors voting in favour and one voting against.
Finance committee member Cllr Stephen Andrews said: “The council has looked at every item of expenditure in our budget and we have made savings ourselves, but we have to make up the funding we are losing by raising the precept.”