Council tax rise to plug £1.9m gap in Mansfield only to be on cards if ‘absolutely necessary’

Raising council tax to plug a £1.9 million gap in Mansfield Council’s finances may be “almost inevitable” due to potential public sector cuts, the district’s mayor has warned.
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However, the authority says it is “mindful” of the pressure households are facing with the cost of living crisis and this option will only be considered if it is “absolutely necessary”.

The authority has started the process of setting its budget for 2023/24 and must find £1.894m to balance the books, with inflationary pressures, rising energy costs and an £800,000 forecasted rise in staff wages to blame for the financial gap.

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A review of all services will be taken, while to make up some of the £1.9m gap, £9,000 is expected to be found through ‘cost reduction’, £755,000 could come from ‘establishment savings’ and £142,000 through ‘income generation’.

Andy Abrahams, Mansfield mayor.Andy Abrahams, Mansfield mayor.
Andy Abrahams, Mansfield mayor.

A further £18,000 is proposed through ‘service reductions’, although council papers do not confirm any specific policies.

The authority’s cabinet approved the beginning of the budget-setting process at its latest meeting and now a scrutiny committee will draw up cost-saving proposals.

No proposals for council tax increases have yet been revealed, with the authority waiting for the Government to confirm the maximum bills could rise.

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Last year, authorities could raise bills by 1,99 per cent or £5 on a Band D home, whichever was higher, without calling a referendum.

If this remains the same in 2023/24, Mansfield Council could generate £153,000 from the £5 rise, or £118,000 from a 1.99 per cent increase.

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However, Andy Abrahams, Mansfield mayor, said he would rather not increase council tax.

He said: “What we’re trying to balance is that we’re right in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis and I want to help our residents as much as possible.

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“You’ve got to weigh it up against where services might be cut, but I’m mindful I don’t want to increase the financial burden on our residents through council tax, unless absolutely necessary.

“However, in the longer term, it’s inevitable almost, because we’ve more or less got a government saying there’s austerity coming again.”

The corporate resources overview and scrutiny committee has started developing cash-saving proposals, with the plans due in January.