Owl says: The gallery, in Honiton, has swallowed up around £500,000 of our council tax money over the last few years. Could The Beehive (also a gobbler of funds in the past) perhaps house the gallery’s art and activities?
Or, here’s a thought: display it in the new £10 million HQ currently under construction in Honiton!
“Unprecedented increases in council tax starting in April will not offset cuts to services including children’s centres and libraries, local authorities have warned.
The Local Government Association (LGA) said councils in England would raise an estimated £1.1bn through higher council taxes in 2017-18, but this would not cover the £1.4bn lost through cuts to central government funding plus the higher wage bill of £1bn.
Nearly half of English councils with responsibility for providing social care for adults and children will increase council tax by the maximum 5.99% allowed – 2.99% for general council tax plus a further levy of up to 3% to pay for the care of older and disabled adults – but this will not prevent further cuts to services, according to the LGA.
Councils will continue to reduce or close services such as children’s centres, libraries, leisure centres, parks, museums and road repairs to plug growing gaps in adult and children’s social care and homelessness services, it says.
The widespread emergence of what some councillors have dubbed “pay more, get less” budget settlements comes as town halls struggle to balance the books after years of cuts in core government funding.
Northamptonshire county council effectively declared itself bankrupt earlier this month after admitting that rising costs and shrinking income made it unable to set a legal budget.
The council must set out revised plans for cuts at a meeting this week after an auditors report warned that its existing proposed budget plans were “not credibly achievable”.
Northamptonshire’s predicament highlights how councils are increasingly reliant on one-off measures such as dipping into reserves, or selling buildings and land, to meet the spiralling cost of social care. Those pressures are being compounded in some cases by the failure to deliver savings with existing cuts.
The LGA said 147 of the 152 English authorities that provide social care services would levy a 3% council tax precept from April to raise extra cash for the care of older and disabled adults. Although this will raise an extra £548m, it will be wiped out by the cost of meeting the national minimum wage.
These councils face additional costs estimated to be at least £400m over the next 12 months as result of a legal judgement that requires care employers to pay the minimum wage to carers working sleep-in shifts, backdated for six years.
Out of the 152 “social care” authorities, 108 also plan to increase general council tax by between 2.95% and the maximum 2.99% allowed. This will raise an estimated £548m. Five councils have said they will freeze council tax for 2018-19. …
… A spokesman for the Department of Housing, Communities and Local Government said: “As part of our finance settlement, we are delivering a real-terms increase in resources to councils over the next two years, more freedom and fairness, and greater certainty to plan and secure value for money.
“We want to work with local government to develop a new funding system for the future and encourage councils to submit responses to the review currently under way.”
England’s councils have experienced a 40% cut in central government funding since the start of the decade and face a £5bn funding gap by 2020.
The Local Government Information Unit thinktank warned this month that many English local authorities were teetering on the edge of financial crisis.”