Average council tax bills across North Yorkshire look set to increase by more than £100 for the coming year – despite both the police and council having relatively healthy finances.
Two meetings at County Hall in Northallerton this week heard while North Yorkshire Police was “very healthy” and envied by neighbouring forces, North Yorkshire Council was in a far better financial position than most local authorities due to savings after becoming a unitary authority.
A meeting of the county’s police, fire and crime panel approved commissioner Zoe Metcalfe’s proposal to charge band D taxpayers £11.77 extra for the police service and £2.41 more for the fire brigade.
The council’s executive then recommended to a meeting of the full council later this month for a £87.80 increase, meaning average council tax bills will rise by £101.98, before any potential town or parish council precept increase is added.
The scale of the increase in council tax follows comes as the council’s leader and chairman of the police, fire and crime panel, Councillor Carl Les, called on the Government to undertake a long-awaited review of funding levels for providing services across England’s largest county.
He said: “It would be good if there was a level playing field across the country, but over time the equation of the principal sources of revenue in different parts of the country has become skewed.”
Increase ‘absolutely necessary’
Commissioner Zoe Metcalfe said in charging the average resident £306.86 for the police service she had not taken full advantage of the maximum increase the Government had permitted this year.
She emphasised she only wanted to charge residents what was absolutely necessary during a cost of living crisis.
Mrs Metcalfe said in a survey of almost 3,000 residents some 61 per cent had supported an increase of £10 or more.
The police, fire and crime panel meeting heard the 3.99 per cent police precept increase would put the force in a “very healthy” financial position for the next four years, and when any efficiency savings were made, those funds could be re-invested in the service.
Members heard by the end of December, the force had almost 1,700 police officers and was on target to meet all of the Police Officer Uplift targets announced in 2019 as part of a drive to reverse a decade of austerity cuts.