‘£92m blackhole? It could be £110m if we stick with freeze on our council tax’

Another £18 million may be cut from vital services over the next four years if residents don’t take on an annual two per cent rise in council tax.

Warwickshire County Council HQ, Shire Hall in Warwick.
Warwickshire County Council HQ, Shire Hall in Warwick.

Warwickshire County Council has announced it must cut a range of services and over 600 jobs over the next four years to make savings of £92million - 26 percent of it’s total budget.

It later emerged that these estimates were based on an assumption that the current council tax freeze would end and a year-on-year rise of at least two percent introduced.

Sign up to our daily WarwickshireWorld Today newsletter

If the rise is not supported by residents and councillors, it is estimated that anywhere up to £18million would have to be found on top of the already proposed cuts, putting total savings at £110million over four years.

Cllr John Whitehouse, (Lib Dem, Ken Abbey) said sadly, it is time for people to have to think about priorities in the face of some of the council’s biggest ever spending cuts.

“This figure of ninety two million assumes a council tax rise and if we don’t implement that there will be more money to find,” he said.

“This is something we are going to be looking at over the next few months to try and find a way of making the overall numbers add up.

“It is a huge amount of money and this will certainly not be easy, but hopefully people will realise what we are facing here.”

Council tax has been frozen for the past three years in what Cllr Whitehouse said was a break from the usual annual rise - something they are hoping to return to in hope of making ends meet.

The Council Tax Freeze Grant is a government initiative whereby councils who do not increase their rates are given a grant equivalent to raising tax by one per cent.

Cllr Whitehouse continued: “We have just had a three year savings plan for £70million and there is almost no fat left on the bone.

“There is no question that these cuts are going to hurt however we try to make them easier. Hopefully people will get on side and realise that.”

“These decisions will only get harder and harder.

“We cannot simply slice a bit off every service, we need to decide which services are statutory and which we can afford to let go.”

All three political groups will now hold party discussions to begin negotiations 
before any decisions are made by the full council in 
February.

A Warwickshire County Council spokesperson said: “The £92million savings are based on approximately two per cent council tax increase, but these are just proposals at this stage.”

The council will make up to 627 job cuts as part of plans to slash its £350million budget.