Council Tax for most residents of Epping Forest will be frozen next year after the main precepting authorities declared zero increases. Epping Forest District Council, Essex County Council, Essex Fire Authority and Essex Police Authority all set the same Council Tax as last year. Some residents will see minor changes to their bills depending on the precepts set by their local town or parish council.
Council Tax precepts remain the same despite large cuts in government funding. Authorities have warned of cuts in services. Essex County Council has announced job losses and service reductions. Epping Forest District Council, which has a history of prudent financial management, has not had to make major savings in next year`s services but is preparing for potentially significant reductions in 2012/13.
Broken down into its constituent parts, the total bill for an average Band D Council Taxpayer in Epping Forest district will be:
- £1,086.75 to Essex County Council,
- £132.12 to Essex Police,
- £ 66.42 to Essex Fire Authority and
- £148.77 to Epping Forest District Council.
Parish and Town Council precepts will vary from £12.95 for residents of Stapleford Abbotts to £94.46 in Waltham Abbey.
Councillor Chris Whitbread, Finance Portfolio Holder for Epping Forest District Council said: “Essex County Council is taking most of the headlines as it seeks to save millions of pounds from its budgets from April. Epping Forest District Council operates on a much smaller scale and we are in a stronger position. We are not planning significant reductions in district council services next year. The following year may be a different matter. We won`t make any decisions until we have consulted local residents.”
He continued: “We are a debt-free, low-tax, streamlined council. Some budgets have already gone down this year. We have taken steps to reduce gradually our costs and maximised our potential income from other sources, such as commercial property. Core services and support for the voluntary sector are being protected. The CAB for example will continue to receive over £113,000 next year. However, a 27 per cent decrease in our revenue support grant over the next two years means hard choices lie ahead. Unfortunately we have had to make some difficult decisions already, for example we would have liked to have a lower rent increase for our tenants. However, this has been largely outside of our control and we have invested heavily in recent years to ensure that all our property has met the Decent Homes Standard.
“On current estimates, over £1 million needs to be saved from Epping Forest District Council`s budgets from April 2012. That`s a lot on a £16 million budget but less than most comparable councils. Plans are now being drawn up to consult local residents.
“Over the summer everyone will have a chance to participate. There are many misunderstandings about who provides what. We will therefore issue information explaining the differences between us, Essex County Council and other public sector organisations so residents understand how reductions in district council budgets would affect them directly. Once we have the views of people who live and work in the district the hard work really begins as councillors start the budget setting process for 2012/13.”
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