Precept rise due to new cut in support grants

Pound coins
Pound coins

A town council has had to put its council tax precept up by almost nine per cent – after a grant cut by Central Beds.

Biggleswade Town Council is increasing the precept by 8.93 per cent from April after Central Beds Council decided not to pass on its Council Tax Support Grant to town and parish councils.

The precept will be £667,502 for the 2014/15 tax year, with the rise equating to an extra 18.43 pence per week for a Band D property.

A Band D home council tax bill will now amount to £117.27 a year.

After the precept figure was passed unanimously at a Biggleswade Town Council meeting on Tuesday, councillors agreed that the rise was one they were implementing reluctantly.

Councillor Bernard Briars said: “It is a great shame that despite advice to the contrary from the government, Central Beds Council has decided to keep the grant funds to itself and not pass any of the money on to town and parish councils as it did previously.

“It means we have no choice but to raise our precept.”

Councillor Madeline Russell agreed but said that the rise will offer the council more independence.

She said: “At a time when principal councils seem to be quite reliant on central government for funding it is sad that the support grant is not being shared.

“But decisions like this do mean that we are acting independently as a council and that we are levying tax which we will be deciding how to spend, making us directly accountable to the town that we serve.”

The move follows Sandy Town Council’s decision to also raise its precept from April.

At a meeting earlier this month Sandy mayor Councillor Susan Sutton said: “We had hoped to set a precept with a modest increase but we have had to make up for this 10 per cent reduction in our income imposed on us from above.

“CBC leaves us no choice but to make a larger increase.

“We are a small organisation with limited resources and our scope for making further savings is very restricted.”