Introduce further transparency in Council Expenditure relating to Council Tax.
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In Nottinghamshire, the average Council Tax has increased by £1000 over the last 20 years, inflation only accounts for £411 of that increase, yet finding out where that money goes it incredibly difficult, and this makes it far easier for Councils to spend money unaccountably and harder for tax payers to understand why their rate is increasing, and what good it is doing.
What this petition is proposing, is that in the interest of transparency, every annual Council Tax Demand that is posted to resident, is accompanied with a simple cover letter highlighting the key expenditure changes (be it an increase or decrease) with the council's annual budget as follows:
Any change in regular expenditure in a single area of 5% or more.
Any change in regular expenditure in a single area that equates to £5m or more.
Any single ad-hoc expenditure that equates to £1m or more.
Any use of the reserves that equates to £1m or more
This way, residents will understand exactly why their council tax is changing (if it changes) and exactly where that money is going from. This will benefit residents, but also the council, by building a higher level of trust between our elected establishment and the residents who elected them, as well as creating a higher level of scrutiny and accountability that is not currently present.
As Council Tax Demands are already sent in the post, the additional cost of such a covering letter would be neglible.
An example, based on the 2017/18 budget for Notts County Council, of how such a cover letter might look:
As a result of the 2017/2018 budget, which was proposed by Cllr David Kirkham, debated and voted on by the County Council on the 23rd of February 2017, the Council has made the decision to increase Council Tax by 4.75%, in the form of a 1.75% as a standard increase, and 3% in the form of the Government Approved Levy for Social Care.
-The significant changes to Council Expenditure in the 2017/2018 Budget are as follows:-
Children and Young People - Reduction of £6.516m (-1.84%)
Adult Social Care & Health - Reduction of £5.529m (-1.20%)
Use of Reserves - Increase of £8.308m (+44.02%)
-Significant Ad-Hoc Expenditure of the Council is as follows:-
Schools Capital Maintanence grant allocation of £5.5m
Highways Maintenance Incentive Grant totalling £1.1m
National Productivity Investment Fund totalling £3.0m
Completion of the Harworth Access capital project totalling £2.5m
Smarter Ways of Working programme totalling £3.6m
New ICT service totalling £3.1m
Rolleston Drive Demolition project totalling £1.5m
Microsoft Enterprise Agreement totalling £1m
We thank you for supporting the Council and hope you understand that with the changes above we can achieve XYZ over the coming financial year. Please find enclosed your Council Tax Demand.
Cllr David Kirkham
Chairman of the Finance and Property Committee"
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