Council tax rises could be on the way as a city council faces a £2m budget black hole. A report on City of Lincoln Council indicates its budget pressures will more than double by 2028, particularly around the need for temporary accommodation.
In addition, it outlines a need for cuts in the annual costs of approximately £2 million by 2026/27. Cllr Ric Metcalfe, leader of the city council, said: “Over the past decade, the council has delivered annual revenue savings of almost £10 million. However, each year, the challenge to save more becomes increasingly hard.”
Recent analysis by the Local Government Association has revealed that councils in England face a funding gap of almost £3 billion over the next two years just to keep services standing as they are. These funding gaps assume that all councils will increase their council tax rates each year by the maximum allowed (three per cent or £5, whichever is higher) before a referendum is required.
In 2023, taxpayers saw their tax increase by a further 2.99 percent – an extra £8.46 per year for a band D property – on top of a 4.99 percent increase by Lincolnshire County Council and a 5.41 percent rise for Lincolnshire Police’s precept.
With all three combined, Band D council tax residents in Lincoln are paying a total of £2,094.12 per year, an extra 4.74 percent compared to the previous year.
Cllr Metcalfe stressed the council’s commitment to protecting services, adding: “We have identified opportunities to reduce costs, generate new income sources, and decrease service demand. This will help deliver the required savings over the next few years without significant service reductions.”
“We want to protect council services as much as possible; however, given the financial challenges we are facing in the longer term and the absence of additional financial support from central government, it may not be possible to carry on doing everything we do to the current level.
“Ultimately, we will need to review and revisit our investment priorities beyond our Vision 2025, and will look closely at the services we provide and how we provide them, so we can continue to deliver a balanced and sustainable budget.”
He added that no decision had yet been made about future council tax increases, but noted that, in the light of the cost of living crisis, the authority had “managed to keep any increase at a modest level in recent years.”
The City of Lincoln Council’s Liberal Democrats, represented by Cllr Clare Smalley and Cllr Martin Christopher, expressed concerns over the financial challenges.
They said the focus should be on preserving essential services.