Beverley Town Council has reduced its precept for the coming year despite losing out on thousands of pounds of funding they had expected to gain from a government grant.
During Wednesday’s full council meeting the budget for the coming financial year was set at £273,776, over £40,000 less then the figure set last year meaning the average band D household in Beverley will have to pay £47.77, around £2 less then last year.
The reduced precept has been made possible by a number of factors with the town counci reducing its staffing contingency by £8,000, reducing salaries, renegotiating a lower rent on its offices and not hiring a tractor.
This year’s budget has been set in the midst of a row with East Riding Council, who decided not to pass on the Government grant to support council tax in Beverley and a number of other parishes across the county.
Martin Cox, chair of Beverley Town Council said: “This is a well thought though budget which we think is right for Beverley.
“This is not to say that the budget we decided on last year was wrong, we raised the precept last year because we wanted to offer a larger range of services.
“It saddens me that East Riding of Yorkshire council have decided not to pass on the grant to all councils this year.
“I feel that four councils including Beverley have been penalised for raising their precept last year, even though the reasons for that were made clear at the time.”
The £488,000 of funding was provided to enable town and parish councils across the region to reduce their council tax precept in line with reductions in their tax base, but the decision by East Riding Council not to pass on the money, to all councils, against Government advice, has angered a number of town councillors.
Beverley Town Council wrote to East Riding Council to try and change their minds but to no avail,and were forced to stomach the loss of £32,436 in funding.
Beverley is not alone in losing out on funding, both Bridlington and Hessle Town Council’s also wrote to the authority, pleading for them to reconsider their position after losing the money.
Beverley MP Graham Stuart has since written to East Riding Council asking them to clarify why they took this decision.
Responding in a letter to Beverley Town Council regarding their concerns about the government grant money not being passed on, Stephen Parnaby, Leader of East Riding Council, said: “In 2013/14 the Government identified within the Council’s settlement, funding for Local Council Tax Support and provided an amount attributable to town and parish councils.
“This funding was provided to enable town and parish councils to reduce their Council Tax Precept in line with the reduction to their tax base attributable to Council Tax Support discounts and so avoid potentially significant increases in the Council Tax billing amounts if precepts remained the same.
“As you are aware Beverley Town Council actually raised their precept in 2013/14 by £19,730 or 7.6% resulting in an increase in the Band D Council Tax billing amount of £9.42 or 23.5%.
“By increasing the Council Tax the town council have in effect already recovered the impact of the reduction in tax base and therefore the grant is no longer required for its original purpose ie to reduce the precept and prevent Council Tax increases.”
For more Councillor reaction to this issue turn to our letters section on pages 10 and 11.