Ten days ago, Shropshire councillors agreed the council tax for Shropshire. For Band D properties in Ludlow, the charges from 1 April will be:

  • Shropshire Council: £1,574.60 (+3.99%)
  • Shropshire Fire Authority: £106.27 (+1.99%)
  • Police and Crime Commissioner: £249.66 (+3.94%)
  • Ludlow Town Council: £198.13 (+7.7%).

Combined, the four taxes give an overall rise of 4.2% in for householders in Ludlow from 1 April. The Band D charge in Ludlow will £2,115.17 before the energy rebate and any discretionary relief.

All Band A-D households will get a £150 rebate, with additional payments to the poorest households that do not pay council tax or are in higher bands.

Shropshire Council’s 3.99% rise includes a 1.99% general increase plus 2% ring-fenced for adult and children’s social care, which accounts for 77% of the council’s non-dedicated budget. (The dedicated budget mostly goes to schools.) The council will receive £16,785,300 from the government as compensation for the energy rebate and £584,700 discretionary funding for those in need, including in Bands E to H. Second homes and empty homes will not be eligible for the rebate.

The Local Government Association is advising that households pay their council tax by direct debit to speed receipt of the rebate.

There is lining of good news. For households that agree to receive council tax bills by email, Shropshire Council will plant a tree.

Ludlow Town Council Budget 2022/23

Over the last 10 years, council tax in Ludlow has risen from £1,015 to £1,409 (38%). If council tax had risen in line with inflation, it would be £175 lower at £1,234.

The council has set an expenditure budget of £983,501 for 2022/23. It aims to raise £708,607 from the precept, which is added to council tax. The expected income from fees and other sources, including Ludlow Market, is £274,894. The annual increase to Band D council tax will be £13.49, 26p a week.

The annual budget provides local services including community grants, Ludlow Museum at the Buttercross, Ludlow Market, grounds maintenance and burial services at Henley Road Cemetery, maintenance of public parks and play areas including, Linney Riverside Park, Wheeler Road Skate Park and recreation area, Houseman Crescent play area, St John’s Garden, Castle Gardens, and the garden of Rest at St Laurence’s Churchyard.

The budget also provides for repairs to the town wall at St Laurence’s Churchyard. Tt present these figures are estimated based on the final report from the structural engineers. The estimated repayments of a 25-year loan are £180,000 per year for a total estimated expenditure of £4m at a fixed 2.29% interest rate.

Ludlow Town Council now has the third highest parish council precept in Shropshire and raises the second highest amount.

Shropshire Council funding

The government has cut its funding for local authorities sharply over the last decade. Shropshire Council received 38% less from the government in 2021/22 than it did in 2015/16. Council tax payers now pay nearly 80% of the council’s funding (excluding education) compared to 55% in 2015/16.

During this period, adult social care costs rose sharply and, with an older population than average, Shropshire Council is expecting these costs to rise by £8m to £10m each financial year.

Encouraged by government grants, Shropshire Council implemented a council tax freeze between 2009/10 and 2015/16. Had council tax increased by 2% per annum, the council would now be receiving an additional £20.8m a year.

The council is expected to have a £19.5m shortfall in its social care budget next year and has an overall £50 million structural deficit. But although the council is challenged financially, it is not yet anywhere near having to issuing a S114 Notice, which must be issued when a council cannot balance its books.

The Conservatives at Shropshire Council have been pinning their hopes on a major overhaul of the local government funding mechanism aimed at providing fairer funding across the country. Unless the government provides more money, this would draw money out of the larger cities into the rural shires. The Fairer Funding Review has been underway since 2016 and shows no sign of coming to a conclusion. The government is also to increase National Insurance in April to pay for the NHS and social care. Initially, all the money will go to the NHS and it seems a distant hope that any money will find its way to adult and children’s social care.

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