Wiltshire Publications

Central Government changes force increase in council tax in Westbury

WESTBURY Town Council (WTC) has decided to raise its precept (its portion of the Council Tax) from an annual rate of £71.74 (2013-14) for a band D property to £78.60 (2014-15) – an increase of £6.86 annually or 13p per week.

Westbury Town Council says its tax burden will still be less than 4% of the overall council tax for Westbury households, representing a rise of 0.48% on the total tax bill.

The town council explains  that changes made by the government in the way the Council Tax Base is supported has had a negative effect.

They say, “It hits councils in deprived areas particularly heavily because a support grant was given to cover the tax shortfall from residents with low or no incomes, who couldn’t afford to pay the council tax due on their properties.

“Up to and including the current financial year Westbury, like every other town and parish council across the county, received a support grant from Wiltshire Council to offset this shortfall. In 2013-14 we received £49,225.

“This grant is being withdrawn over the next two to three years (in 2014-15 it will fall to £31,996) leaving a ‘black hole’ in our finances.

“Following a comprehensive review, Westbury Town Council has cut its planned expenditure in 2014-15 by £12,620, thereby limiting the amount of extra tax needed to make up for the reduced support grant. The 2014-15 increase described above will fully cover that shortfall in income.

“Any support grant that the council does receive from Wiltshire Council can then be earmarked for capital projects or to cover the cost of any asset transfers that Wiltshire Council may offer to Westbury Town Council i.e. public toilets, etc, to save such services from possible closure.

“Also there has been talk of town and parish councils being capped in the future and taking these steps now, will allow Westbury Town Council to work within any capped limits without having to cut any services.

“The council regrets the need to increase the burden of taxation imposed on householders, but considers this action to be both necessary and equitable.

“Full details of our decisions and votes are available to residents at the council’s office, on its website www.westburytown council.gov.uk  and from individual councillors.”