Sandwell Council undecided on council tax rise

COUNCIL Tax in Sandwell could rise this year after the council announced it had not decided whether to freeze the rate.

Sandwell Council's finances were discussed at the meeting of the full council on Tuesday which had cuts and cash shortfalls on the agenda.

The Government has not announced what incentives councils that freeze council taxes will receive in the next financial year.

Sandwell Council supremo Councillor Steve Eling said: “For the next two financial years we have built in a provisional two per cent rise because we are working on the basis that they might not be providing any future freeze grants.

Cllr Eling is currently trying to plug a £20 million hole in the budget after the Government announced how much cash the council would be awarded.

He added “The £100m cuts by 2017 is going to happen, and it could potentially be worse than that with inflationary pressures as well.”

Cllr Eling has previously promised Sandwell Council "will be the last in the Midlands to go bankrupt" if the Government continue to cut local government grants.

Director of strategic resources Stuart Kellas added: " The council continues to face an extremely challenging financial position.

The provisional allocation has been announced for 2014/15 and 2015/16.

"There is no detailed information available for 2016/17 but the recent level of funding cuts to local government seems set to continue."

He added: "At this time a further funding reduction of 11 per cent is assumed for 2016/17.

The council has identified several departments and services which will have budgets cut to help complete the services.

These include public health, regeneration, reducing temporary workers, closing council offices at Christmas, reducing contribution to Birmingham Airport as well as redundancies.

The council has a statutory duty to set a balanced budget by March 11 each year before the start of the financial year in April.

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