Precept rise confirmed

MORPETH’S council tax payers will pay five per cent more for the precept in 2014/15 after the town council approved its budget.

The authority unanimously agreed to the above-inflation increase to help cover a £41,000 loss of grant support.

Northumberland County Council confirmed last month that the compensation payment in 2013/14 for a reduction in the council tax base due to the Government’s housing benefit changes was just a one-off and it would not be provided for the forthcoming financial year.

At a recent meeting, Chairman of the Finance and General Purposes Committee, David Parker, said the committee decided to recommend that services are maintained at their present level and additional financial commitments include £5,000 towards the work of the Morpeth Markets Partnership and a guarantee, if required, of £1,200 for the Stobhill dial-a-ride service.

As well as the five per cent precept rise (the 2014/15 total is £521,930), £40,000 will be taken out of the Repairs and Renewals Fund and £23,188 out of balances so the council can achieve its objectives.

Coun Parker added: “The committee is of the opinion that reducing the balance in the Repairs and Renewals Fund will not put at risk the council’s ability to ensure appropriate maintenance of its physical assets.

“Play areas, community centres and public conveniences will continue to be maintained to an acceptable standard.

“This is the first time the council has been obliged to raise its precept by more than the rate of inflation for many years, but it is of the opinion that residents are very satisfied with its services and would not want the council to make any cuts in services.”