Scilly’s Council Tax Set To Rise This Year

town hall windows signCouncil tax in the Isles of Scilly is set to rise this coming financial year.

Councillors recommended the 1.99% increase at last Thursday’s Policy and Resources meeting, although it still needs the approval of the Full Council.

It’s just below the 2% limit, which would have triggered a local referendum under new rules, and the rise is expected to generate an extra £27,000.

For the past three years the Council has accepted a government ‘freeze grant,’ offered to all local authorities, which effectively stopped any increases.

But it has left them vulnerable to future reductions in the total grant provided by Westminster.

This year, councillors have declined that grant meaning bills will have to rise.

The Police element of Council tax, which has been rising each year, will also go up by 1.99% again in 2014/15.

Cllr David Pearson said he faced a dilemma, and was reluctant to support an increase when wages weren’t going up as well.

Council chairman Amanda Martin felt that “sadly” they’d have to go with it.

“It’s about getting our house in order,” she said.

While Cllr Steve Sims said the £1.5m recently approved for resurfacing the islands roads, “had to be paid for somewhere.”

Scilly has the second lowest Band D Council tax rate in England, although the average rate paid per house is the fifth highest, because there are so many properties in the higher bands here.

Members also heard that receipts from business rates have not been as high as predicted by the government this year.

Head of Finance Iain McCulloch said this was due to the volatile situation on the islands with a number of changes to businesses.

It’s a problem because councils now receive 50% of the money expected to be collected and they have to make up any shortfall.

That’ll be around £80,000 in Scilly.

Iain said luckily there is a surplus from Council tax of £90,000 which will offset this, but they’ll “need to keep eye” on the situation in the future.