The report of the Executive Manager – Finance and Corporate Services is attached.
The Leader and Portfolio Holder for Strategic and Borough Wide Leadership, Councillor Robinson presented the report of the Executive Manager – Finance and Corporate Services that outlined the Council’s position on Council Tax for the year 2020/21.
Councillor Robinson confirmed that this was a statutory item to approve the Council Tax for 2020/21 and this resolution reflected the consolidation of all the precepts for Nottinghamshire County Council, Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Nottinghamshire Fire Authority, parish and town councils and Rushcliffe Borough Council. This Council Tax remained the lowest in Nottinghamshire and within the lowest quartile nationally.
The report was moved by Councillor Robinson and seconded by Councillor Moore.
Councillor Jen Walker stated that there was an irony that later in the evening, the Council would be considering a Motion to request Government funding for the East Midlands, whilst at the same meeting, Council would be approving the raising of Council Tax. The Labour Group would not be supporting the recommendation as the tax was levied on a notional value that had no relation to household income or the market value of the property, with the poorest percentage of the population proportionately paying significantly higher than the wealthiest. The proposed increase would place an excessive burden on working people. For the last 10 years, locally wages had been depressed, and due to austerity and cuts from central Government, privatisation and uncertainty, the Council had no other option but to increase Council Tax to protect itself from an uncertain future. Officers were thanked for their hard work in drafting the report and it was hoped that the requested investment from central Government would be received soon, albeit 10 years too late.
Councillor Jones stated that it was a concern that the central Government Revenue Support Grant had been removed, the upper levels of Council Tax had not been increased and public services were reduced to the bear minimum. However, recognising that situation, reluctantly, the Liberal Democrat Group would support the recommendation.
Councillor Richard Mallender referred to the removal of the Revenue Support Grant, which affected everyone. Council Tax was not an ideal way to address the needs of local authorities and communities and alternative ways of financing local authorities should be investigated; however, given the current situation, the Green Group would be supporting the recommendation.
Councillor Clarke advised that it was a statutory requirement to set a Council Tax and if the Council failed to do so, it would be breaking the law.
Councillor Moore reiterated that the Council had to set a Council Tax and the proposed increase of £4.95 per year was relatively small.
Councillor Simms referred to the popularity of the Borough and the high number of people who wished to live in Rushcliffe. Employment was very high nationally, there was support from families on low wages and the Council had to raise money through its Council Tax.
Councillor Purdue-Horan stated that as part of the budget process, the current Police and Crime Commissioner, Mr Paddy Tipping, had taken the opportunity to maximise the increase allowed under the Government rules. Councillor Purdue-Horan would support Councillor Jen Walker, if she joined with him and others to ask the Police and Crime Commissioner to maximise resources in Rushcliffe, as currently residents were paying the highest amounts after Nottingham City Council itself. With crime recently on the rise, it was uncertain if Rushcliffe Council Tax payers were receiving the best value for money.
Councillor Butler stated that Council Tax had to be set and this Council continued to perform well.
Councillor Gaunt stated that although it was an affluent Borough there were many residents in Rushcliffe living on low wages with several jobs to make ends meet. The Labour Group would not be voting against the setting of a Council Tax, it would be voting against the proposed increase.
Councillor Thomas stated that residents enjoyed the services that Council Tax paid for and it was uncertain why the Council was so content to have its Council Tax in the lowest quartile.
Councillor Robinson stated that the administration was very proud of its achievements for the authority. It was a legal requirement to set a Council Tax and if it was not increased, it would inevitably lead to cuts in services and redundancies. Residents in Rushcliffe were wealthier than they have ever been before and the Council was proud to have its Council Tax within the lowest quartile nationally.
It was RESOLVED that the Council Tax Resolution for 2020/21 as detailed at Appendix A be approved.