'Average' homes in Dorset face council tax bills of more than £2,000

'Average' homes in Dorset face council tax bills of more than £2,000

Published by Maria Greenwood at 7:11am 30th January 2020.

Dorset Council’s controlling cabinet say they understand the burden a 4% increase in its share of the council tax will bring.

But they say they need to invest more in social care for children and adults – with the addition of almost £22m to those budget from April.

The move comes after criticism during the council’s first year of constant overspends for both caring services which opposition councillors claim proved the Conservative majority underestimated the need to begin with.

The rise, the maximum allowed without a referendum, is almost certain to be approved at the full council meeting on February 18th.

pound coins money

It will push many ‘average’ homes into paying more than £2,000 a year for the first time once police, fire, town and parish council demands have been added – keeping Dorset as one of the most expensive councils in England.

Half of the Dorset Council increase (2%) will be for adult social care which will see its overall budget rise from £111.2m to £122.9m, but still facing the need to find cost reductions of more than £1.2m.

An extra £10.3m will go to children with care, or educational needs. That department is also expected to fine savings, as will others.

Dorset Council, south walks house

Cabinet spokesman Cllr Tony Ferrari said that the administration was concerned that it had to suggest the increase of just under 4 per cent, but was financial competent and determined to keep its election promises.

"We understand only too clearly the burden it places on our residents and will only do so when the need to provide essential services, and particularly the needs of our most vulnerable, are compelling.

"This tax increase only provides £9.6m, less than half of the extra money we are allocating to the care services.

"Our commitment, on the formation of this council, was that this administration would not cut services and this budget does exactly as we promised, no service cuts."

Dorset Council

The rest of the extra money for care, he said, would involve moving of money from ‘back office’ tasks to front line services. He added:

"We have taken the opportunity of forming a unitary council to reduce central costs.

"The money now being spent on care comes, in part, from changes like reducing councillors from 204 to 82, four chief execs’ to one; the removal of duplication across levels of management and staff structures.

"This is a theme we will continue in future years – rationalising the property estate and transforming the way we work.

"This will allow us to continue moving money into front line services…"

If approved at the February full council meeting the new Dorset Council share of council tax from April will range from £1,130 a year for band A homes to £3,390 for band H.

For the most prevalent band D and E homes the Dorset Council share will be £1,695 and £2,072.

By Trevor Bevins, Local Democracy Reporter