Deadline reminder as hundreds share views on council tax proposals

Over 750 people have so far had their say on Westmorland and Furness
Council’s proposals for changes to council tax from April. Those that
haven’t yet have until Monday 13 February to share their views.

The consultation comes as the council prepares to set its first budget
ahead of vesting day on 1 April this year.

Vesting day will see Westmorland and Furness Council replace Cumbria
County Council, Eden District Council, South Lakeland District Council
and Barrow Borough Council, and take on responsibility for the full
range of all local council services.

Details of the consultation and how to respond can be found at
https://www.westmorlandandfurness.gov.uk/have-your-say/have-your-say-in-council-tax-consultation/

Copies of the consultation document are also available in main council
offices in Barrow, Kendal and Penrith and local libraries.

The council is asking for feedback on three key proposals:

* In line with Government assumptions, the council is proposing a
4.99% rise in council tax for 2023/24. This is made up of a 2.99% basic
increase plus another 2% specifically to help fund adult social care,
known as the Adult Social Care Precept
* It is also being proposed that council tax rates should be harmonised
across the Westmorland and Furness area. Currently council tax levels
vary between district council areas. Harmonisation will set a consistent
council tax rate across the whole Westmorland and Furness area.
* Finally, the council is proposing to introduce a 100% council tax
increase on the area’s 5,440 second homes, doubling the council tax
they would pay from April 2024.

The proposals are intended to ensure that the new council can continue
to provide essential local services, despite a predicted £20 million
increase costs, and deliver on the ambitious vision and priorities in
its recently agreed Council Plan.

Councillor Andrew Jarvis, Cabinet Member for Finance, said:

“I want to thank everyone who has taken the time to respond so far. As
you would expect there are a wide range of views on what we are
proposing, both in support and opposition. We are keen to hear from as
many people as possible, so I’d encourage anyone who hasn’t yet to
have a look at the consultation let us know what they think.

The proposed increase in council tax charges for second homes is in
anticipation of new legislation being passed in time for 1 April 2024.
There are 5440 second homes in the Westmorland and Furness area,
accounting for 4.7% of the housing stock, but in some local areas such
as Lakes at 21%, the proportion is far higher.

Commenting on the proposal Cllr Jarvis added:

“These are all big decisions for our new council to make, but one of
our core values is listening to our communities and working with local
people on the issues that matter most. That’s why I would encourage
everyone share their views on what we are proposing through this
consultation.”

A consultation feedback report will be considered by Cabinet at their
meeting on 24 February, ahead of a final decision on the council’s
2023/24 budget at the Shadow Authority meeting on 7 March.


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