South Northamptonshire Council tax rise 'not leaving cupboard bare' for successor

Council tax notice Image copyright PA Media
Image caption The increase of £5 on council tax in South Northamptonshire is the most it can be raised without a local referendum

An authority is proposing to raise council tax in its final budget to avoid leaving "the cupboard bare" for its successor.

South Northamptonshire's £5 council tax rise in its 2020-21 budget is the most it can suggest without a public vote.

The council will be scrapped next year, along with six other district and borough councils and Northamptonshire County Council.

Leader Ian McCord said it was not "blowing" reserves or "being reckless".

"What we are trying to do is leave a good legacy but do it in a sensible way, as people would expect from us," he added.

The £5 rise for an average band D property equates to a 2.6% increase, from £191.33 to £196.33. Any rise over 2% or £5 requires a referendum.

A government report in 2018 recommended the scrapping of the Conservative-run county council, which twice banned all but statutory spending, and set up two unitary authorities for Northamptonshire.

The legislation to form the new councils, known as a structural change order, was passed in the House of Commons on Monday and is due to be debated in the House of Lords.

Image caption Ian McCord, leader of South Northamptonshire Council, said he wanted the authority leave a legacy

Tory-led South Northamptonshire Council will release a further £1.9m for the reorganisation, on top of £500,000 it pledged in August 2018.

The £5 increase proposed would earn the council an extra £400,000 towards its overall budget of £15.95m, reports the Local Democracy Reporting Service.

The council's cabinet agreed to the draft budget on Monday but it requires approval from full council later this month.

Speaking at cabinet, Peter Rawlinson, the councillor responsible for finance, said: "We have a budget that is prudent, we are not being reckless or leaving the cupboard bare for the new unitaries."

South Northamptonshire Council will form the West Northamptonshire unitary authority with the Daventry and Northampton councils.

There will be another authority for the north of county, both of which should be in place by April 2021.

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