Council tax set to rise in £61m budget cuts package

By Matthew Bates Monday 03 December 2012 Updated: 05/12 17:59

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Buy photos » Council finance director Chris West, deputy leader Coun George Duggins and cabinet member for community services, Coun Ann Lucas, go through the council's pre-budget report. 49.012.006.cov.nc1

COUNCIL tax in Coventry is set to rise by two per cent as the authority battles to cut back its budget.

The rise - 40p a week for the average home - will come after council bosses are expected to reject a government offer to freeze the tax.

They are aiming to save an estimated £61.2million over the next three years to balance the council's books.

Before February £2m must be found, with £28.6m next year and £43.1m saved by 2014/15.

By that time the council's spending power will have fallen by around a fifth compared to the start of austerity. Around £100m has already been lost from its budget.

Leading councillors said it was too early for details to emerge but it was inevitable front line services would take a hit.

They warned every single service offered would be examined in a bid to find savings. And they are bracing themselves for further cuts delivered by Chancellor George Osborne in Wednesday's Autumn Statement.

Deputy leader Coun George Duggins said government cuts amounted to £101 per head of population in the city - £40 more than nearby Solihull and £60 more than other areas.

He described a report set to be discussed by councillors next week as the authority's 'survival package'.

"We need people to understand the full horror and the scale of austerity," he said.

"The government chose - rather than needed - to do this by making welfare cuts instead of tax increases.

"It's clear our Christmas present will be a significant cut in its grant funding to us, and I'm very worried about the impact this will have on the most vulnerable people in our city.

"We're now looking at making some very painful decisions about our services and losing more posts at the council than we originally anticipated."

Other funding worries include a growing pension deficit within the council and a drop in income from areas such as planning and parking fees. Demographic pressures - such as people living longer - have become another huge burden.

We reported last month how another 800 jobs are set to be axed on top of the 800 already lost, with the usual six-week voluntary redundancy period extended in a bid to stave off the threat of forced job losses.

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