Winchester City Council sets one of the lowest Council Tax increases in Hampshire

At its meeting tonight (Wednesday) Winchester City Council will be voting on a 2.9% council tax increase - less than inflation and one of the lowest in Hampshire.

The increase would see a band D tax rise from £113.13 to £116.46, the equivalent of about 6p a week extra.

The budget is being set with a view to promoting efficiency throughout the council to save money but also to keep the standard of services provided high. Management is being streamlined to provide more effective frontline services that will be monitored more closely than before, to encourage new ideas and increased efficiency at every level.

Cllr George Beckett, leader of the Council said, "It has been a tough budget round this year and we have had to make decisions that impact across the council. We are already making efficiencies, with £1m saved in the current year, and in the year to come we will be aiming to save more by implementing a fundamental service review where we will study closely every aspect of the council's activities and ensure they give best value. Meanwhile we will be monitoring savings being made monthly at Cabinet - something that has not been done before.

"It becomes increasingly difficult to make budget decisions when, for instance, we are forced to spend what amounts to about 10% of the total Council Tax income on a government scheme to subsidise bus travel, £250,000 of which hit us in December".

The proposed cut to the Meals on Wheels scheme has now been reversed following feedback, "We have listened" said Cllr George Beckett, "we suggested the reduction as a saving, but following representations made at Cabinet we have decided to keep the grant and ask for a thorough review of the efficiency of the service to make sure that it represents value for taxpayers money.

All budget decisions are subject to Full Council agreement at the meeting being held at 7pm Wednesday 28 February in Winchester Guildhall