Milton Keynes Council is 'looking at a 2.5% rise' in council tax next year

    Milton Keynes Council Leader Cllr Peter Marland has told MKFM the Council is "looking at" a 2.5% rise in council tax next year.

    But he says that is much less than the government expect local council's to increase rates by.

    Speaking exclusively to MKFM, Cllr Marland said: "The government have allowed us to put council tax up by 5%, and they've reduced the amount of money they're giving to us by about £800,000 based on the idea we take a 5% council tax rise."

    "I don't think 5% at this time would be right, so we're looking at a 2.5% council tax rise."

    It comes at a time when Milton Keynes Council is having to create a budget with massive falls in revenue from activities such as car parking and planning income.

    Cllr Marland said that "some of that will come back. We're taking the view that around about a quarter of our income will come back."

    In addition, Milton Keynes Council is set to use around £3m of reserves to balance the budget next year and "not cut services at a difficult time".

    "You save reserves for a rainy day, and it's lashing it down. It won't rain harder than it is at the moment", Cllr Marland commented.

    But despite the rise in council tax, there will still be significant savings to be made.

    "There are about £9m of savings we are going to make, particularly around introducing demand responsive transport rather than subsidising existing bus services."

    The pressure on budgets comes at a time when the Council are having to provide even more services than usual due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    "We've got this whole support service now which is going on, which we've never done before."

    "We're setting up a mass vaccination centre, we're doing Food Bank Extra, we're looking at setting up mass testing centre's."

    "We've got all this extra stuff on top of what we have been doing. We've had some money for it, but it hasn't paid for everything."

    And Milton Keynes "still has the lowest council tax in our little area", Cllr Marland added.

    "You pay less than Buckinghamshire, less than Northamptonshire and all the Bedfordshire authorities."

    "People don't like council tax, it's a tax. I get it. It's a regressive tax. I don't like paying tax, you don't like paying tax. But it's my job to get the balance right, and I think 2.5% is getting the balance right."

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