Council Tax in Doncaster to rise as council tries to fill £18.9 million budget black hole

Doncaster mayor Ros Jones has announced council tax bills will rise by nearly three per cent and revealed the local authority has a projected budget black hole of close to £19 million over the next three years.

By George Torr, Local Democracy Reporter
Wednesday, 10th February 2021, 3:06 pm

The mayor, in her latest budget proposals, is increasing council tax by 1.4 per cent along with a 1.5 per cent rise in a precept ring-fenced for adult social care services.

Finance bosses at Doncaster Council said the Covid-19 pandemic has placed ‘unprecedented stress’ on council services.

Ros Jones is Doncaster's directly-elected mayor

On council tax rises, this will increase to £1,446 per year on band D homes – up by £40.75 from the previous year. For band A homes, annual bills will now come in at £964.07 a year – up by £27.17 from the previous year.

The council has chosen not to increase by the maximum payable rate of 4.99 per cent, which would include a three per social care precept. This is the maximum rise any council can implement and if they chose to go higher, it has to pass a community referendum.

New figures show Doncaster Council will use £46.6 million in reserves to plug the budget gap in 2021/2022 but funds will be bolstered by £19.1 million the following year.

The proposals also include a council house rent increase of 1.5 per cent in line with the Government’s policy on social housing.

Mayor Ros Jones said proposing a budget for the next few years has been hard.

“Proposing a balanced budget for the next three years has been extremely challenging,” she said.

“Thankfully we are a financially well managed council and despite significant cuts in government funding, through hard work and good financial planning I can still propose a budget which works to protect our most vulnerable residents and continues to invest in a cleaner, greener, more resilient, prosperous and inclusive borough.

“I have carefully considered the financial impact of the pandemic on our residents and local economy and this is reflected in my budget proposals.”

“As always my focus is to protect jobs, support vulnerable people and continue with the things that matter the most to our residents.”

An estimated £341 million capital spend is also planned over the next four years to try and stimulate growth – £108 million of which is forecast for 2021/22.

Key parts of the council’s investment proposals include:

£174.1 million for the council’s social housing stock covering maintenance, adaptations and the new build programme. This includes energy efficiency improvements, to respond to climate change and the carbon reduction targets. £3.2 million to improve parks. £2.0 million phased approach to improving leisure facilities that will allow Doncaster residents to maintain access to swimming, indoor sports and gymnasium facilities. £2.6 million to commence a programme of activities to decarbonise council buildings, operations and energy supply and £500,000 for tree planting as well as the naturalisation of some grassed areas with wildflowers and continuing to invest in electric vehicles as part of the council fleet.