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Council tax freeze for Sandwell residents despite £12 million Government cut
12:24pm Wednesday 6th March 2013 in News
COUNCIL tax in Sandwell is being frozen for the third year running – despite a £12 million cut in Government cash.
The Labour-run local authority has pledged there will be no “knee jerk” closures of services, but millions of pounds worth of efficiency gains and investments in future developments.
But there could be another 500 job losses between now and 2017, on top of the estimated 1,000 already shed since 2010.
Councillors approved a budget for day-to-day spending on services in 2013/14 of £255 million compared with £267 million this year on Tuesday.
Savings will be made by cutting management and transport costs, operating from few offices and energy saving measures.
By not increasing council tax, the borough will be rewarded with a Government grant of £1 million grant to offset the effect of the freeze.
Councillor Steve Eling, deputy leader and Cabinet member for strategic resources, said the new budget reflected a five per cut in Government cash support of around £12 million – part of estimated cuts for Sandwell of £100 million between 2010 and 2017 – although the council also has to save another £3 million in 2013/14 to meet the costs of inflation.
But he said Sandwell could avoid knee-jerk closures of community facilities like libraries, leisure centres and children’s centres.
“We have a rolling three-year financial plan and have been preparing for this year’s budget for the last two years,” he said.
“We are saving millions by working more efficiently.
“This means things like cutting management and transport costs, operating from fewer offices and energy efficiency measures.”
Councillor Eling said the council was also finding cash for investments in new housing, business developments and Green Flag parks.
Although Sandwell Council is not increasing its share of the council tax in 2013/14, people will pay a little more because the organisations running police and fire services are putting up their charges. Most Sandwell householders – in Band A and B properties – will pay £5.31 or £6.20 extra over the year.