West councils likely to raise taxes next year, BBC finds

Council tax bill generic Image copyright PA
Image caption All the councils in the West are likely to increase their taxes after several years of freezes

A BBC investigation has shown council tax is likely to increase by up to £65 in the West region.

The highest rise of £65 in Somerset is partly due to a one-year interim levy for flood defence work.

North Somerset's council tax is likely to go up by £53 for a Band D property after a freeze for the past few years.

Deputy leader, Elfan Ap Rees said: "I'm disappointed the government hasn't really been listening to all of the councils all of the time."

'Balanced budget'

The expected rises are: Gloucestershire £53; Bristol £60; South Gloucestershire £60; Wiltshire £52; Swindon £49 and Bath and North East Somerset £42.

They all take into account police and fire services which are also expected to put up their share of the council tax bill.

For the county council areas, there may also be further increases added in to the council tax bill from the town and parish councils precepts.

West Somerset Council merged its services with neighbouring Taunton Deane to cut down on expenditure in 2013.

West Somerset's Conservative leader, Anthony Trollope-Bellew said: "Our projections are we will not be able to produced a balanced budget in 2018-19.

"How are we going to deal with that? Well we are starting to try and deal with it now, we've got two years to try to sort it out."

The councils will be setting their budgets in February and March, ahead of the new financial year.

Once the budget is set, the council tax rises will be confirmed.

BBC Points West Political editor, Paul Barltrop:

We're all going to pay more and get less for years to come.

That is the picture emerging from our councils as they grapple with further reductions in the funding they get from central government.

It has been falling for years, but the obvious savings - like being more efficient and having fewer offices and staff - have been made.

So there is quiet relief in many corners of the West that the government's had a change of heart, and is pretty much expecting councils to put up tax.

That may not go down well with residents, but they may have to get used to it.

The expectation is that putting up tax by around a pound a week will be the norm in the next few years.

Not that it will make life easy for our councillors.

The extra money coming in won't match their rising costs and cuts in the funding they get from central government.

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