Bucks Council welcomes Autumn Statement creating greater council tax flexibility

“The Autumn Statement does give us more flexibility in setting council tax”
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Bucks Council has welcomed Chancellor Jeremy Hunt’s Autumn Statement which it states will give the local authority extra flexibility.

Council Leader Councillor Martin Tett, has said the statement announced yesterday (17 November), provides the local authority with extra flexibility when it comes to setting council tax.

The council is specifically happy with the news that local authorities are receiving a share of £1 billion funding to support residents struggling in the cost of living crisis.

Bucks Council Leader Martin TettBucks Council Leader Martin Tett
Bucks Council Leader Martin Tett

Bucks Council uses this funding for its ‘Helping Hand’ service which provides food vouchers to people who need them.

Local councils are now able to increase council tax by 5% a year, previously they could only increase the rate by 3%.

The council revealed that costs have increased by 20% on certain projects it funds.

The Chancellor announced a minimum wage rise from £9.50 to £10.42 an hour from next April.

State pensions and disability benefits will increase in line with inflation. Also, the top bracket of tax will be paid by people earning over £125,140, instead of £150,000.

Income tax personal allowance will be frozen at £12,570, meaning anyone who earns more will be paying more tax.

Main National Insurance and inheritance tax thresholds were also frozen.

Tax-free allowances are due to be cut next year.

Elsewhere the statement was criticised by local authorities in Chelmsford and Brentwood.

With councillors arguing the changes do not offer enough financial support to local authorities.

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Councillor Tett said: “On balance we welcome the Autumn Statement and recognise that it is taking tough but necessary decisions to help us get through some difficult times. We continue to digest the full implications for councils. It’s certainly welcome news to see extra money for Adult Social Care and the Household Support Fund being extended - and overall to see funding set aside for people who need it most. It’s also good news that in this budget the most vulnerable are being protected and we will see pensions and benefits rise in line with inflation.

“We have realised significant savings from becoming a unitary council but I have to be clear – budget setting this year has been the most complex we have ever known, due to the shifting landscape, uncertainty and escalating costs.

“The Autumn Statement does give us more flexibility in setting Council Tax and we cannot hide from the massive rise in the cost of providing critical services - but we have to balance this against the pressures households are facing and all of this feeds into the decisions we will make as we set the budgets. We are well advanced in this process and we’re really pleased so many residents this year have input through our Money Matters survey – if any residents still haven’t responded please go onto our website and take part.

“We know that overall many people continue to need support and I urge anyone in Buckinghamshire who is experiencing hardship to look at the Cost of Living information on our website, which outlines how to get extra help if you need it.”