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‘Obscene’ grants unfair

HOMEOWNERS in Solihull are facing a 2.25 per cent rise in Council Tax.

HOMEOWNERS in Solihull are facing a 2.25 per cent rise in Council Tax.

This works out at just under an extra 50p a week for people living in Band D properties – or an additional £25.78 over the whole year.

Earlier this week, Ken Meeson, leader of Solihull Council, said that the authority was aware of the extra strain that the recession had put on residents.

And bearing that in mind, efforts had been made to drive down the increase as much as possible.

But Coun Meeson added that the borough was still suffering at the hands of “obscene” Government grants – Solihull remains the lowest-funded metropolitan authority in the country.

At present, it gets £266 per head of population. Birmingham gets more than double this, with £665 per person.

“The distribution is extremely unfair, and doesn’t reflect the needs of the borough,” he said this week. We have to collect 63 per cent of our budget from Council Tax. Why is it that people living in Harborne or Sutton Coldfield only have to pay one third, and in Solihull they have to pay two thirds?”

Officers have identified £13m worth of savings for the next financial year – with plans to reduce library opening hours, and work more closely with other local authorities. Solihull Music Service had also been earmarked for cuts, but Solihull is now in discussions with its partners in Warwickshire.

Although Coun Meeson has ruled out any redundancies, he said council staff could work more across different departments.

Looking to the future, Solihull is lobbying for a major overhaul of funding from central Government.

“All three political parties have said there will be reductions in public service spending, putting pressure on our public services,” said Coun Meeson.

“That’s why I have said it’s so imperative that Solihull gets a fair settlement.”

While 2.25 per cent is not the final figure, officials have said that it’s very unlikely to change between now, and when the budget is agreed on March 1.

 

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