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'Challenging time' as council plans to increase tax but cancel £4m cuts

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Nat Lofthouse
Nat Lofthouse

'Challenging time' as council plans to increase tax but cancel £4m cuts 12963540

The ruling coalition in Bolton has proposed a new town hall budget for the next year that will see council tax rise but £4m of planned cuts removed.

The proposals will see council tax rise by a total of 3.8 per cent, which includes the mayoral precept decided by Metro Mayor Andy Burnham.

The cancelled cuts would have impacted adult and children's services, while an additional £4m will be allocated to social care, with £1m for highways projects.

Council leader, Cllr Martyn Cox, said "This is a challenging time for local councils with additional pressures to come with rising energy costs and increases in national insurance contributions.

"But we are determined not to pass these added costs directly on to Bolton households at a time when budgets are being stretched.

"While some increases are inevitable, we feel this below inflation rise will strike the right balance needed to protect the services we all rely on."

The draft 2022/23 budget includes an extra 1.13 per cent on the adult social care precept, with the total increase coming to the equivalent of 63p a week for a typical Band A property.

The budget will also set aside £100,000 to improve parking near Moss Bank Park.

Council leaders are not putting forward additional service cuts during after receiving a financial settlement from the government.

But opposition parties say cuts over the long term have still proven hugely damaging to the borough and that this current budget is simply a "respite" before "inevitable" further cuts later on.

Labour group leader Cllr Nick Peel said: "People shouldn't cheer too much.

"This is like cheering someone for stopping beating you up so I'm not going to pat the government on the back for temporarily stopping hitting us with a big stick."

He added: "More than 10 years of austerity has seen council services stripped to the bone.

"You can't take that much money out of councils without the standard of services deteriorating."

Cllr Roger Hayes, Liberal Democrat group leader, added: "This is the second year of a two year budget, so we should look at the totality of the two years together.

"Bolton had to plan for savings, really cuts, of £36.5m over the two years - £31.6m of it last year.

"In total, Bolton has suffered cuts of £225m since 2010/11. That is entirely due to Government cuts in funding, and has had very damaging effects on services. Over the two years the budget has been a disaster.

"Liberal Democrats were only persuaded not to vote against the budget last year by the administration agreeing to two things. Reversing a proposed pay cut to employees and contacting the Prime Minister, Secretary of State and the borough’s MPs in the strongest terms to point out that even statutory services are at risk due to the funding cuts and that better funding was needed in the future.

"We cannot know what effect that had, but there is slightly more generosity this year.

"We are pleased that this year’s settlement has allowed fewer cuts to be made in children’s and adults services.

"However, there are still many cuts in other services – the ones that effect most people like road maintenance, parks and libraries.

"We are pleased that Liberal Democrats have persuaded the administration to allocate £1m to resurfacing of residential roads.

"Although this is only a drop in the ocean when compared with the massive maintenance backlog, it is something.

"We will continue to push for more. The money allocated for parking improvements in the area of Moss Bank Park will meet a promise made by the previous leader of the council."

The proposed council tax rise will be decided by a full council vote on February 16.

The change to the mayoral precept, which covers the police, fire and other mayoral services will be discussed by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority on February 11.


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